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Tell us about a time when you responded to an act of kindness with one of your own.

I believe in the pay it forward idea. I think small acts of kindness are the best kind. We can have grandiose plans for changing the world, but a simple act of kindness, words of empathy, or offhand compliment, can change another person’s day, or change their attitude. And seeing their response can be a gift to the giver.

oscar-wilde-smallest-act-of-kindnessPeople have been kind to me often, or given me “advice” that later I’ve taken. One has to be ready to listen, to hear what others have to say. When I’m talking to someone, I try to focus just on that person, with eye contact. Giving someone your undivided attention, especially in these days of constant demands on our time and consciousness, can be a gift. Listening is a skill worth developing, because gems of wisdom, of an ah-ha moment, can come from unexpected places. You have to be aware and present to catch them.

In these days of overabundance and the ability to communicate in so many ways, so instantly, it is easy to forget that speaking to another person face to face adds a third dimension — their expression, their eyes, their body language. Social media conveys filtered information, but it does not give you feeling about others. It misses the emotional connections that comes from personal interaction.

I feel blessed when someone “gets me”. I have one friend who always seems to hear what I’m not saying, just by being with me. We’re not best friends, but friends and co-workers, and she just has the ability to read others well, and sometimes surprisingly so. Oddly enough, she’s not one to reveal herself easily. She has some walls, and so talking with her personally allows nuances — not apparent in her words — to come to the surface.

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