3 Key Behaviours of People Who Make a Difference

I have been sticking close to home this last week. Last Sunday I had an incident that left me with a severe hamstring injury, enough that I am still struggling to sit as I write this. With the experiences I have had this week, I have been considering what it means to make a difference.

What I have been experiencing since the incident is phenomenal kindness of others.  From the health care practitioners to friends to my amazing family, I have been gifted with deep caring. I have a lot of gratitude. Especially having the privilege of my daughter standing by my bedside for hours. (Where are the chairs in emergency rooms?)

During the week, I met people doing many different kinds of work. Now that my life has slowed down to a shuffle pace, I am seeing how much each of these people are making a difference in not only my life, but in the lives of others.

For some of the occupations, the influence they have seems a bit more obvious than others.

On Sunday I had my first experience with paramedics; they were kind and paid attention to not only what I said but also how I was saying it to them. I know how much they put themselves out there every day to make sure people get what they need in the moment. To experience it was another thing.

As I watched the tree tops out the back window, I had no doubt I was in good hands.

I saw a lot of medical professionals that day – doctor, nurses and technicians – each one tried to make my life easier. The medical field is driven by people who are committed to making a difference.

Affecting others is not just in the healthcare field. I observed some behaviour similarities displayed by all the people who made a difference in my life this week: 

1.         They make an effort.

Whether it is work that they are paid to do or what they do in their “off-time,” people who are committed to making a difference extend themselves to people around them.

2.        They listen.

And they take the time to listen. One of humans’ deepest needs is to be heard and someone who makes a difference understands this. Besides the facts, they also listen to what is happening on an emotional level.

3.      They emanate empathy.

Truly understanding that every one of us is vulnerable allows us to bridge between the helper and the helpee. At the end of the day, compassion goes a long way. 

Shortly after I reported to my work that I would not be coming in, the manager passed on healthcare contacts. Every day, I see my co-workers offer resources and help to clients; at the receiving end, I could see how much the right referral can make such a difference in some else’s life. I see my referral as a magician!

When I talk to people about the kind of work that they would like to pursue, they often say that they want to make a difference. What I got to see first hand this week was the extent to which that happens in an ordinary day.

At one event this week, when I was so uncomfortable trying to find a position where I didn’t experience pain, I stood up and winced from the muscle spasm. A woman across the table looked at me with such compassion. I am not sure she even knew how how her kindness eased that moment.

I had a lot of takeways this week. Related to work, I see that indeed in every occupation, there is an opportunity to truly affect people in a myriad of ways.

The server, barista, car sales person, cashier, produce market owner, and librarian enter your life on a daily basis – you could be one of them and you may have no idea of how you are affecting the life of the person in front of you. By adding more strawberries to the pint. Or genuinely asking someone how they are doing. Or making beautiful coffee art. 

The question then to me isn’t about a listing of occupations that make a difference but how you, in your own unique way, contributes to the world. It may be about easing suffering but it also could be about spreading joy.

Where do you see people making a difference in your life?   

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