“Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say.” – Mitch Albom, Have a Little Faith
Let me guess. You’re busy. You might be even too busy to read this post.
But you’re not alone. We all seem busy. We’re so preoccupied with a lot of things that we often forget to say pleasant things to our colleagues, friends and family.
We sometimes focus so much on deadlines, sales, growth hacks, success, meetings, innovation, and the list goes on…
What I’ve learned, however, is that:
No matter how busy we are, we should stop whatever we’re doing and say nice things to people around us. . .
. . . and we should do it now, and not a day after, for we don’t really know if there’s still tomorrow.
I learned this “lesson” from my former professor who was also my master’s thesis adviser. This professor was always busy, and I was, too.
We almost didn’t see each other for thesis consultations, but he still did a great job in giving directions to my thesis, and supporting me till I completed the whole manuscript. I was very thankful.
A few months after I earned my master’s degree, he called me to say that he wanted me to present my thesis at a regional conference for graduate schools. I immediately agreed, thinking that he would be there, too.
I thought it was our chance to talk. Well, I rarely heard from him after my graduation although we were just in the same campus.
When the conference day came, he backed out and said that he had important meetings and would be busy that day. So, then, I went to the venue (a few hours of travel from the university) without him. It was a conference participated in by graduate students and faculty from universities in the region.
I was inspired and came prepared for the presentation. I thought the audience found my presentation or my thesis interesting. They asked several questions. A few reached out to me after the presentation.
I felt very much fulfilled after the presentation. When I came back to the university, my first agenda was to see my adviser and tell him how successful the presentation was.
I wanted to personally thank him for giving me such a wonderful opportunity.
But days and weeks had passed and I didn’t get a chance to see him.
He was either doing business outside the campus or was on leave. I also heard that he was sick for a few days.
At the time, I didn’t have his mobile number, so I had no way of knowing how he was. I remember sending him an email, but his reply was very short. It just left me clueless about what exactly kept him so ‘busy’.
I kept myself busy, too, and later forgot about what I wanted to say to him.
A few weeks later, I saw him—finally. Suddenly, I remembered what I wanted to say.
But at that moment, I was in a seminar. I wanted to go out when I saw him outside the room through the glass door. But again, I delayed talking to him.
He saw me and looked at me for about three seconds, then he left—as if saying goodbye…
What I didn’t realize was that that was the last time I would see him alive. He passed away because of a health condition. I had no idea what happened. He never talked about his health.
When the news broke out, I couldn’t believe it.
The next moment, I saw myself talking to him—at his funeral. I told him of the successful presentation, the questions raised, and how grateful I was to him for sending me to that conference to share what I knew and what I learned from him.
I told him that he was the first person in the university (outside my department) to trust me that much. And for that, I was truly grateful.
Finally, I had the chance to tell him these pleasant things that I should have told him quite a long time ago. But it was sad, for he could no longer hear me.
And he won’t be able to read this post, too.
So my advice to you:
“Being busy is never an excuse to say nice things to people, especially to those who have been good to us and those who matter to us. If we have great things to say, we must say it now.Never ever delay gratitude.”
Do you have colleagues who have been doing great things at work? Compliment them―now. Have you noticed how much love you’ve been receiving from your family? Thank them. Hug them. Let them know and feel how grateful you are. And do it now.
Don’t wait for the second or third chance before you say something nice, for this might be the only chance you have.
If you’ve got pleasant things to say, say it now. Not tomorrow.
Believe me, it doesn’t feel great talking to someone who can no longer hear or feel you.