With life slowing down and, well, being in close quarters, there are a lot of adjustments. You have a normal way of living and your routines work for you. Suddenly in the pandemic period, your way of life may be turned upside down.

So what are your values during this time?  What’s important to you? How can you be proud of the way you handled this period of time?  There are lots of questions with answers that will vary from one person to another.  One area that most would agree on is that regardless (or in spite of?) the stress, it’s important to show others that we value them.

How do you do that?

Listen. To listen means to put your phone down, turn the television off, and give eye contact. Showing that you are focusing on the other person is a part of saying, “Hey, I care about what you have to say.”

Reciprocity.  Many people are watching more television and playing more video games. You may be someone who focuses on the screen, almost as if it is just the screen and you. Do you view interruptions as rude or annoying?  So what’s your value–the relationship with the other person or the movie/show/game?  Talking and trading kind teases and laughs can make watching television more interpersonal. Your focus isn’t really on the show (most of the time you can rewind anyway), it’s on having fun with your family member or friend.

Show appreciation.  Notice what others do for you, whether it’s washing dishes or bringing you food. Their contributions to the family are important and everyone needs to know that they do contribute. Their contribution may be acts of kindness or doing chores, but it could also be that they have a great sense of humor and help lighten things up. Or they have positive energy that helps the family group cope. Those are contributions too.

Support.  You may not agree with all the choices loved ones make.  But you love them and value them. They have to live their best life and your view of their best life may not match theirs. Telling them the truth in a loving way is showing how much you value them.  AND accepting their choice and giving them love and encouragement is showing you value them even when you disagree. You may set your own boundaries, express your loving concern, and still support them emotionally within your own limits. 

Apologize with meaning when you mess up.  Saying, “I’m sorry,” is important. But it needs to be a meaningful apology. Understand fully how your actions affected the other person and check out that understanding. Then share what you will do differently in the future, or recognize the harm that your behavior caused. If you can, take action to repair the harm you did. This might be replacing something you broke or buying lunch for someone if you were late meeting them (again!).  If you’ve really upset someone, then you want to go beyond an equal repair and do more. If you borrowed a sweater and ruined it, and you know it was a very favorite sweater, then you replace the sweater as best you can, but you also add something else you know they would like. If you left your dishes in the sink when you had agreed to put them in the dishwasher, then wash dishes for a week or do the dishes and clean the living room. 

How do you show people you value them?

Live a skillful life. Karyn Hall, Ph.D., May 12, 2020