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It’s Christmas Time Again. Here’s How To Win Hearts!

It’s Christmas Time Again. Here’s How To Win Hearts!

We are at the point in the year when shopping centres are adorned with decorative ornaments – massive colourful baubles hanging from high ceilings and life-sized trees. The outlets that haven’t made an effort feel eerily out of place. Not unlike someone who wears bright yellow to an all-white party.

We all know what time it is.

It’s Christmas. A time for gift-giving, sharing meals with loved ones and rekindling old friendships. Time to be on our best behaviour, and to embrace a heightened sense of humanity. Sometimes the occasion brings us close to those we’ve stayed away from, and conversation can get spirited. Other times it brings us close to those we’re happy to see after so long, and those conversations warm the heart.

There’s no grand prize for spreading the most Christmas cheer. Christmas is, however, a unique opportunity to be relevant, more so than other times during the year. It presents the perfect occasion for anyone looking to foster high-trust habits that engender fruitful one-on-one interactions. 

Let’s explore some of these less celebrated habits for making a difference – and for winning hearts – both during this opportune season and beyond. 

Show Gratitude

Gratitude is both a habit and a virtue. There’s a reason why the gratitude journal is so wildly popular today. It forces us to pause and reflect on the things we’re grateful for. And over time, these reflections compound into a positive outlook on life. 

So how does gratitude factor into winning hearts? I believe holidays like Christmas are the perfect opportunity to thank someone who has influenced you positively. You want to cast a wide net here: it could be a colleague, friend, family member or neighbour. The guiding question is simple: Who are you grateful to have known this year? Ideally, you want to be clear and specific in articulating what you’re grateful for. They may have helped you grow professionally or been a source of strength through a difficult period.

In holiday mode, it is not awkward to say thank you for something that happened a while back. And a gesture that is not required by social norm is far more likely to be authentic than a mere formality. Its genuineness is discernible to the recipient. 

Pro-tip, if you don’t know the other person well enough to pick out something you’re grateful for, an honest compliment will work just as well. 

It does take some boldness for most people, myself included, to reach out in this manner. Not everyone’s character lends naturally to such initiative. Thankfully, there are other less gutsy options you might want to explore if this is not your forte. 

Listen Up

As stated, Christmas brings us closer together, literally. With the festivities in full swing, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself in social gatherings and celebrations. This means conversations are going to be had one way or another. And that in itself is an opportunity.

Conversations are easily the most accessible way to form meaningful connections. While having them, we give and receive attention naturally through dialogue. 

In my view, conversations are under-utilised. That’s because there’s a proper way to have them, and it’s easy to miss the mark here. In the best conversations, participants try to draw out contributions from each other, each person eager to be the audience while the other speaks. Conversely, in the worst conversations, participants take up a podium position, speaking incessantly without really hearing the other, not unlike a political debate. These tend to go off-topic easily and are not helpful to anyone. It only takes one podium to ruin a good conversation. 

Being the listener this Christmas will make you a far more relevant presence. Listeners create room for others to be themselves in a conversation. They do this by showing enough interest in what’s being said to make the others feel heard. Paradoxically, by not saying too much, you can ensure the other person enjoys your company and has a great conversation with you. If you’ve ever conversed with a great listener, you’ll know just how easy-going those conversations are. 

It takes time and practice to find one’s preferred listening style. But it doesn’t take as much initiative as showing gratitude or giving a compliment. When done right, good listening leads to yet another opportunity to be socially relevant this Christmas season.

Encourage Others

Has someone ever shared something personal while conversing with you without being asked? Congratulations. That means you gained their trust. People are only vulnerable when they sense the conversation is a safe space for it. This is what effective listening leads to – safe spaces.

It’s an honour to gain someone’s trust. It is also an opportunity to speak directly to where they are in their journey, as a source of strength. In your conversations this Christmas you could run into these impromptu opportunities. You want to be ready to seize them. So what does that look like? Here are some examples of comments that exemplify seizing the opportunity here: 

  1. All the best with that project, you’ve got this.
  2. Congrats on your new role. I’m rooting for you.
  3. If you ever need to speak, I’m here for you.

Such unscripted comments acknowledging where people are in their journey are deeply impactful. They come from an honest place and speak to a tangible need. Be it the need to be celebrated, validated, or simply supported. While the opportunity to be a source of strength and hope usually comes up in conversation, it’s not exclusive to them. It can present in ways we least expect. 

See Also

There is one more thing that is crucial to winning hearts this Christmas. 

Take Care Of Yourself

As the proverb goes, You cannot pour from an empty cup!

The capacity to win hearts does not come from a magical void. It comes from an emotional reservoir. One continually depleted by the demands of life. As such, we should form the habit of replenishing it. This is a well-being imperative. 

Self-care is now more popular than ever. We are seeing an awakening on the subject. There is a clear need for wellness in an enhanced set of areas beyond the purview of traditional healthcare. Alas, the core tenets of self-care are not common knowledge or common sense. Thankfully, this is a fast-growing field, and we have more working notes on it.

Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith is a physicist and a leading scholar on work-life integration. Her work on rest (also featured in a previous article here in The Finance Chapter) explores the seven types of rest. Her Ted Talk has invaluable nuggets we can apply for immediate results. Here is an insight from the talk. 

“ emotional and social rest deficit often co-exist occurring when we fail to distinguish between relationships that revive us, from those that exhaust us.”

For a deeper dive, her book titled Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity, is available on Amazon Kindle, paperback and audio.

It’s OK to want to win hearts this Christmas. This noble growth aspiration shows a willingness to touch lives for the better. It is not OK, however, if this comes at the expense of anyone’s well-being. 

I wish you a Merry Christmas. Take care of yourself and (if you can) someone else too.

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