I'm certainly not a master at this, but it is something I strive for. Be it the checkout line at Wal-Mart talking to the cashier, thanking the hostess as I leave after a meal, or speaking to a kid who doesn't seem to be connecting with others, I look for opportunities to 'touch' others with a word of encouragement. While I don't do it to gain anything for myself, the results are often amazing.
Just yesterday I went through a drive through and got a drink. When the lady at the window opened the window to take my money, I smiled at her and said "Hi. how are you doing today?" Simple right? She looked at me for a brief moment then said "Actually, it's a good day. Thank you for asking". And she seemed to straighten up and certainly began to smile.
Did that small interaction make an earth-shaking impact? I doubt it. But for her, having someone invest in her instead of just wanting something from her made her day brighter.
Here are some ways you can invest in others too. Even in your family, I suggest doing some of these things to make your spouse or children feel important and valued.
Ten ways to make others feel important (and therefore valued and appreciated)
1. Use their names.
2. Pay attention when they are speaking.
3. Remember important dates and events.
4. Learn their spouse, partner, children’s (or even pet’s) names. (or if it's your child, their key friends)
5. Find out what they do for a living (outside of serving in the church!).
6. Ask them about their interests.
7. Let them teach you something. (A hobby, a skill, or a life lesson.) (Especially with kids! Let them show you something they've discovered, even if you already know it!)
8. Build them up (sincerely) in front of others.
9. Acknowledge their experience and expertise.
10. Notice what they bring to the team (or family), how they are serving, and recognize them in some way.