A Few Kind Words

A few kind words go a long way, I have found.

I attended a late afternoon board of directors meeting, yesterday, for a non-profit organization that I have been involved with for many years. As is the organization’s custom, there is a small reception (wine and hors d’oeuvres) at the conclusion of the meeting, so that the board members can socialize and get to know one another better before they scurry on home. Lovely idea.

During the reception, I noticed that there was one member of the board, a rather elderly gentleman who has been on the board for many, many years, standing by himself, precariously balancing his glass of wine and plate of hors d’oeuvres. This particular person probably is in his late-seventies, and has been retired as an executive from a rather prominent Chicago company (which was a very long-time client of my father’s) for over a decade, I would guess.

And, he was standing alone. No one was stopping to talk with him. They simply looked right past him, as they strolled by.

This is not an uncommon occurrence in Chicago’s business cocktail reception scene, by the way. It seems that people only want to talk with you if you are perceived as being prominent, or powerful, or most important, if YOU can do something for THEM. Because, that is what they are most interested in–themselves! And, clearly this man has been retired for many years, and can’t do anything for anybody anymore–or, at least that is how he is perceived.

So, I went up and talked with him. (I have known him for many years). We made “small talk”  for about fifteen or twenty minutes about the company that he once worked for–and, I told him stories about my father’s involvement with this company, and the people that he knew.

He seemed to be having a good time. After we had been talking for awhile, I excused myself to get another hors d’oeuvre. He looked me in the eyes and thanked me profusely for the conversation. He left the reception, shortly thereafter.

I hope that I made him feel needed and appreciated. I know that I felt good about myself.

A few kind words go a long way, I think.

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