3 ways to make every encounter better (and your own day, too)

Interacting with people can be wonderful. It can also be awful. Other times it can be completely neutral. Most times, we think that the result of those interactions is how other people show up.

Are they grumpy? Are they wonderful? Are they assholes? Are they boring? Are they entertaining? Are they optimistic? Are they in the dumps?

While other people can absolutely make an impact on all of our encounters…We have more control in each situation than we may realize. I’ll have days at a time (weeks even) where I’m running from event to meeting to errand to catch up to date to phone call to Lyft ride to meal. It feels fast and nevereneding. When those things become stressful and completely not enjoyable, it’s when I’m multitasking, on my phone, doing multiple things at once, and barely paying attention or present with the people around me. Even if they love them.

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Those are the days and weeks I feel the worst. Those are the times that when someone shows up to a situation with their own sh*t, I feel in their sh*t. The grumpy driver will piss me off. The emotional friend will overwhelm me. The tough meeting will stress me out. Because I’m not present to begin with. Because I’m not using my own power to control the energy and add value to other people.

Because when we leave people better than we found them, we leave ourselves better, too.

It easier than you think. It just requires a little bit more presence and a little less being in your own head.

First, make eye contact and smile. Look at people. In the eyes. Smile at people when they’re in your energy field. Even if they’re not smiling at you. It matters more than you know. Baristas, Besties, Family, Strangers, Driver. They all deserve the simple, human gestures.

Second, ask. It’s the easiest way to make someone feel seen, by asking them real questions. Whether you’ve known them for five minutes or fifteen years, ask meaningful questions. Practice curiosity. You’ll learn something in every encounter, and you’ll leave both of you feeling more connected even if it’s just for a chance encounter in time.

Third, appreciate. Compliments are wonderful. Gratitude is life-giving. And the more we can share our appreciate for people in the moment when they’re face to face with us, the better off both people are. Appreciate the way they show up. Show gratitude for the sound of their laugh. Give thanks that they’re in your life. TOthem. Right then and there.

These will make your life better and theirs. I find, personally, these can be some of the hardest tiny steps to do with people we know the best. But they deserve it the most. And you’ll find new levels of your relationship if you do. Look, smile, ask, appreciate. You’ll be glad you did.

This article originally appeared on Maxie McCoy.