My dad passed away a couple of years ago. He was a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Back in November, as I watched the Steelers lose to the Broncos, I was thinking of my dad. I realized that there were a few things I did for which I wish that I could apologize to him. One was the day he and I were in a mall. This was before I got my Kindle. I stopped at a book store to pick up a book by one of my favorite writers. He waited for me outside of the store.
When I came out of the store with a book, he said, “So you got your book. What is it, a novel?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Fiction?” I said in a somewhat exasperated tone, “Dad, novels by definition are fiction.” A hurt look flashed across his face for a second.
This happened over 20 years ago, but when I think of that day, I’m embarrassed by the way I treated my dad. There was no need for my smartass remark. “Yes” was what I should have said to answer his fiction question.
Micro-aggression Versus Micro-affirmations
Not to get too psycho babbly on you, but how I treated my dad that day was what is known as a micro-aggression. Micro-aggressions are small things most of us do every day that cause a little bit of pain to others. They are verbal and nonverbal slights, snubs, or insults which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to another person. They hamper our ability to build strong relationships.
On the other hand, micro-affirmations are just the opposite. They are small things that we do that help other people feel good about themselves. Micro-affirmations can be something as simple as remembering people’s names. In his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie said, “If you remember my name, you add to my feeling of importance.” We all like to feel important.
As we begin the new year, I urge you to pay attention to how what you do and say affects others. Do your best to eliminate micro-aggressions and start using more micro-affirmations. Watch your best sales people in action. I bet you’ll see very few micro-aggressions and lots of micro-affirmations. Act like them. People will gravitate toward you, and your network will grow and help you flourish.