Want to make a huge difference in another person's life? Make them feel like they belong.
Plenty of people don't feel like they belong. Take employees. No matter how welcoming and new employee friendly the company, recently hired employees may feel they're constantly being weighed... and measured... and found wanting. On the flip side, over half of CEOs report feeling lonely in their roles.
So maybe it's the guy in accounting who always eats lunch alone. Or maybe it's the lady in shipping who always stands at the edge of a group. Or maybe it's the guy who never speaks up in a meeting -- even though you can tell he has plenty to offer.
Spotting people in professional settings who feel hesitant and out of place is easy.
But it doesn't have to be a person at work; people who don't feel like they belong are everywhere. Take the gym. Unless you're this guy or this gal, if you're new to working out, you probably feel juuust a bit insecure. And self conscious. And like you don't belong -- and wish you were anywhere else.
Or you can make one person feel good about the job they do. Rarely does a restaurant server hope to turn waiting tables into a lifelong career. Rarely does a grocery store clerk hope to remain a clerk. Rarely does the entry-level manual laborer hope to stay in that job forever. (I was one. Trust me: They don't.)
High-level workers tend to attract high-level praise. Lower level workers often feel invisible, like unseen, unnoticed, unappreciated cog in the machine.
And that's a shame, because every job -- and every person -- deserves to be treated with respect. Every job is important. Every employee is important.
So pick someone where you work. Or pick someone outside of work. It doesn't matter. Then don't just offer a throwaway "thanks."
Say "thank you" and mean it. Or give a sincere compliment. Or ask a question that shows respect for what that person does. Say, or do, something that makes that person feel a slightly bigger connection -- to your company, to a group, or just to you.
For that moment, make sure the other person realizes that you see and appreciate them as a person.
Take it from someone who is often shy and insecure: That person may not show it... but they will definitely appreciate the gesture.