Monday was my 45th birthday. I never really make a big deal out of my birthdays, because my grandmother (who I call mom) raised me to believe every day was my birthday. My family and I celebrate it and that’s it.
This year and this birthday I noticed that there is a small group of people that make a practice out of celebrating other people’s birthdays. They listen and take note of a birthday, and they usually load it into their calendar. Some even research and find out your birthday, and then put it on their calendar. On your birthday, they let you know they are thinking of you. All they want is for you to enjoy your birthday (the genesis of our self-esteem).
This group of people exhibit an important (and thoughtful) relationship skill: Remembering your favorite day. Several people emailed or called me on Monday to wish me a happy birthday. Some of them I have not talked to for quite a while. It brightened my day as well as my outlook of their intentions towards me.
I also realized that I am not great at doing this. I guess it is because I don’t think its a big deal to me or maybe I’m just lazy. I’ve let several important birthdays slip by without saying anything either because I’m too busy or too forgetful. I obviously don’t treat it as high priority or strategic. But I’m going to fix that going forward.
It felt great to hear from Brian Palmer, Libby Sartain and James Bland (just to link-check a few) and I realized that I was missing a tremendous opportunity to show someone that I care about them and their feelings. Here’s what I’m going to do every month for the next year and I hope you decide to do it too.
1. Make a list of five people in my life that deserve a "happy birthday".
2. If I don’t know their birthday, do some research and as a last resort ask them point blank.
3. Put a reminder in my calendar the day before and day of my calendar (in case I’m busy, so I don’t miss it).
4. On that birthday, I’ll pick up the phone and call them to wish them a happy birthday. I might even send a physical card. I’m afraid if I send a gift, I’m also sending an obligation. At last resort I’ll send an email.
If I do this exercise just once, I get five more birthdays this year. If I did it every month for a year, I would really boost my relationship and networking effectiveness. This brings real truth to Dale Carnegie’s idea that you will accomplish more by developing a sincere interest in two people than by trying to get two people interested in you.