3 Reasons to Be Open and Aware of Those Around You

I just returned from several days in New York City for the American Society of Journalists and Authors annual conference. Attending the conference is akin to drinking from a fire hose. Information and connections came at me so fast I barely have time to swallow, much less digest, before the next flood of information washed over me.

While the conference was inspirational and informative for writing professionals, I was reminded that no matter how professional we appear outwardly, inwardly, we all have our struggles. You can stand beside the most well-dressed, put-together, calm-appearing people and never guess they are dealing with grief, depression, anxiety, insecurity, or heartbreak. But with perception, you can make a difference.

Following are reasons to be open and aware of those around you:

We All Appreciate Care and Concern

At times, we all need the care and concern of others, so don’t be afraid to speak.

I sat by a man on the plane to New York who leaned forward in his seat halfway through the flight and remained in that position with his arms on his knees. Part of me thought don’t say anything; but the other part of me was concerned. I leaned forward and whispered, “Are you okay?” He assured me he was.

Later, he sat up and told me he was a Vietnam veteran and the tight, confined space of the airplane seats caused him to feel claustrophobic because of his war experiences. I had the opportunity to thank him for his service to our country and talk about some of my father’s experiences during WWII. He connected with those stories and we had a deep conversation.

Just before we landed, he asked where I was from. When I told him South Carolina, he laughed. “I was born near Charleston,” he said. “But I have lived in Brooklyn since I got back from Vietnam.” I believe it was no coincidence we were seated by each other.

I could have read during that flight and ignored the man beside me, but a few simple words led to a conversation that benefited us both.

You Can Make a Difference

While the conference content was excellent, the conference pace was hectic and loud, with little time to slow down or reflect. Client Connections is 9-minute, speed-dating type appointments with editors and agents in a large, noisy room. Even the most well-prepared are subject to a stampede of anxiety, and for those dealing with additional circumstances, the pressure is almost overwhelming.

Our society is similar, so fast-paced and driven by schedules and agendas that we’ve unwilling to slow enough to become aware and receptive to the needs of others, even for a few minutes. We schedule ourselves to the max, leaving little time to stop and have a heartfelt conversation, when the opportunity presents. Sometimes all it takes is one kind word or expression of concern to crack a stoic exterior and see a need. A few words of encouragement and support can help a struggling person regain forward motion.

You Can be Salt and Light

Much in our world is negative and depressing so it’s not surprising we grow discouraged and lose hope. People of faith have the opportunity to reach out and offer a cup of cold water in the form of words and deeds to those who need a lifeline.

Are you willing to increase your awareness of those you encounter and offer concern and support?

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6 NIV







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  1. You always have great reminders and insight – this is no exception. Thank you for the reminder to slow down and look for situations where we can meet the needs of others. Thanks for sharing the story of your encounter on the airplane – I’m sure that vet won’t forget it!

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