Serving Personal Relationships

Unleash the power of your compliments

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Stone man woman

I can live for two months on a good compliment. – Mark Twain

Genuine compliments actually serve both the receiver and the giver. You can’t give a compliment without focusing on the beauty and value of others. So giving more compliments helps us develop our spirit of gratitude. And as I’ve covered previously, gratitude and service naturally cultivate each other.

Unleash the power

Have you ever wondered if men and women want to receive compliments in the same way? See below for ideas on how to tailor your compliment style by gender. These small tweaks in your delivery can help ensure that your positive message is received with the maximum impact.

Complimenting Men

  • Ask for their advice: Many men see advice seeking as a sign that you respect them. And for men, respect is almost synonymous with love. I’ve taken a highly unscientific survey on this topic. All the men I asked said that being sought after for advice was the highest compliment a person could give them. Please note that it is very important to be authentic in valuing their expertise. Be careful what you seek advice on. If you don’t plan to use their advice it could be viewed as an insult.
  • Be specific: My group of men reported not valuing general praises as much as specific ones. They preferred their compliments to be more targeted and unique. This may be because many men use logic to process emotion. It is therefore easier for them to see the emotion behind “I love the way you smoked the steaks. It had just the perfect mix of grill favor and tender texture.” than “These steaks are good!”

Complimenting Women

  • Attention to detail: Women want to know that they are catching someone’s interest in a positive way. So it goes a long way when a person picks up on harder to notice changes. These could be things like their efforts to be more patient or even something cosmetic like a new hair style or outfit. The compliment is important, but it’s equally important to show that you care enough to be paying attention.
  • Volume: The women I asked joked that they couldn’t imagine what too many compliments would look like. Some women preferred to receive compliments in private instead of public. But all wanted them to be plentiful. Don’t hold back.

How else do you compliment men and women differently? Surely this is just a start.


Speaking of compliments, please feel free to pay me a big one and SHARE this site with others. It’s definitely appreciated.

20 ways to serve in 4 minutes or less

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Train station

Yesterday, a frequent reader told me that finding time to do “5 minute favors” had made a big impact on their personal (and even professional) life. They suggested that I do more posts around the concept of micro-service efforts. Though quick and easy, these efforts make a difference. And they’re perfect for those with big hearts but minimal free time.

If you were with me in January the first 10 ideas below may seem familiar but the last 10 are fresh and new.

20 ways to serve in 4 minutes or less

  1. Tell someone a joke. Laughter is good for the heart.
  2. Save someone from a work conversation they aren’t enjoying. “Hey I hate to interrupt, but can I borrow you for two minutes.”
  3. Actually take your reusable bags into the store with you.
  4. Actually take your reusable cup into Starbucks with you.
  5. Contact an elected official via social media to quickly advocate for a cause you believe in.
  6. Pray for someone.
  7. Make a small online donation to a charity you support.
  8. Teach someone something. Anything.
  9. Text someone a specific compliment. (e.g. “I admire how much patience you have with me.”)
  10. Give someone you love your undivided attention.
  11. Hold a door open and wait while multiple people pass through.
  12. Take time to write a supportive comment on Facebook.
  13. Hug someone.
  14. Let that busy person behind you go ahead of you in line.
  15. Leave change in a vending machine.
  16. Pay the toll for the person behind you.
  17. Discuss with a younger relative a piece of your family history.
  18. Cheer loudly for someone else’s kid.
  19. Give away an extra umbrella on a rainy day.
  20. If you love them. Tell them.

What are other ideas you have?

Please comment below and share freely.


Do you want a superpower? Here are the 10 items that can make anyone a hero.

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Superhero Dog2

There are moments in life when you get to play the part of the hero. Maybe you rescued a toddler that fell off her tricycle. Or maybe you hailed a cab in the rain for your group of friends. It’s a blessing to be able to rescue and serve those in need. And the reminder that you add value into the world feels pretty nice too.

To gain a superpower, look no further than your local drug store. Below is a list of items that may come in handy during your next rescue mission. They vary in size from “wallet ready” to “satchel approved” so everyone can carry something. There’s no pressure to get them all, but when they’re needed you’ll be an absolute hero.


  1. Band-Aids: There are many brands of adhesive bandages but I can’t stop myself from calling them all “Band-Aids”. You can’t predict accidents, but these are a rescue waiting to happen.
  2. Tylenol: There are a lot of pain relievers out there, but acetaminophen (known by the brand name Tylenol) will serve the largest audience. Ibuprofen or naproxen can cause stomach irritation if not taken with food. Also pregnant women are limited to acetaminophen for their pain relief.
  3. Travel Sewing Kit: It’s bound to happen. Buttons will pop off and pant hems will fall out. They vary in size, but some travel sewing kits can easily fit in your wallet. You’ll be ready to rescue someone from walking around looking raggedy.
  4. Tissues: Gone are the days of gentlemen having a handkerchief to offer. Tissues serve the purpose even better.
  5. Skittles: Yes, I’m referring to the bright colored candy. In a pinch, Skittles are a commonly used substitute for glucose tablets which can quickly raise a diabetic’s blood sugar in an emergency.
  6. Trail Mix: People get hungry. Save them.
  7. Bottled Water: This is always good for a true emergency situation like being trapped in the desert. But its more common rescue use is to help someone swallow their pill-form medicine.
  8. Stain Remover Wipes: Stains are easier to remove when you treat them fast. And you’ll help them get that stain remover on the spot pronto. These come in very small travel packs about the size of a hand wipe.
  9. Feminine products (ladies only): Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve played this hero many times. It’s really simple, travel with extra feminine products on you and someone in need will ask for them.
  10. An Ink pen: Even in this day of electronic communication there are still times when someone will need an ink pen. This is usually to fill out a form (or do something else involving paper). Surprisingly few people carry pens on them anymore. Be the person that has one.

What items have you used to serve a dame or damsel in distress?

What to do with unexpected free time and a cell phone

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These days, our lives are more scheduled than ever. But sometimes we find ourselves with unexpected free time. For example, I drove 40 minutes into my office on Saturday (my day off) to catch up on things that weren’t getting my attention during the week. If I’m being honest, it was hard to give up my Saturday morning in favor of my work routine. It got even harder when I arrived at work and a technology issue prevented me from gaining access to my office floor. But I decided to keep trying and not let the badge reader defeat me. I called building security and waited over an hour for them to work on the issue. They eventually “suggested” that I go back home. It would take them several hours to fix the problem.

My story is not unique. Unexpected free time often presents itself as a problem at first. Maybe you tried to drive into work, but your car had a flat tire. Maybe you planned to go to your daughter’s soccer tournament, but it was cancelled because of rain. Or maybe you went to get a new driver’s license and saw that the wait was several hours long.

Welcome to unexpected free time.

What often limits our service to those we love is a lack of free time. Not just a lack of time to do things for loved ones, but often we don’t even have the time to think about what they might need. This is why unexpected free time is such a great opportunity. Here’s one easy way you can put this rare free time to good use.

Serving with your cell phone

  1. Take out your cell phone and go through the list of your 25 most recent texts.
  2. Look at the names there. These will likely be a large portion of the people you interact with most often and care the most about. Granted some family and friends won’t have cell phone or maybe they don’t text, but this is a good list to start with.
  3. As you pass each name, stop for 30 seconds and consider that person for a moment. What’s going on in their lives? What could they use encouragement on? How will this message serve them?
  4. Send them a two to three line text. DO NOT copy and paste messages or mass text recipients. Each message should be custom and serve the recipients unique needs.
  5. Hit send and move to the next name on the list. 

Each person should get roughly 2-3 minutes of your attention. If you don’t have the time to do everyone simply wait until your next unexpected free time comes up. And it will come up.

How do you use your cell phone to serve?

14 awesome people you may have forgotten to thank

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Thank You

Service and gratitude are like a happy marriage. Each can exist on their own, but combined they make each other grow and thrive. If you’re trying to live a life of service you will find yourself drawn to gratitude too. One can’t help but cultivate the other.

The 14 people below are just ideas of people you may owe a thank you to. See someone you know? Reach out to them and share how they impacted your life (assuming that is still possible). But either way, take a moment to feel the gratitude because it will grow your desire to serve.

14 Awesome People

  1. The person who showed you what a good leader looks like.
  2. The person who taught you how to teach others.
  3. The person who listened when you couldn’t hold it in any longer.
  4. The person who taught you that laughter has the power to heal.
  5. The person who forgave you when you didn’t deserve it.
  6. The person who always had time for you.
  7. The person who gave you that compliment you’ll never forget.
  8. The person who believed in you when you couldn’t believe in yourself.
  9. The person who made it harder for you when you hadn’t learned your lesson.
  10. The person who waited when you needed time to mature.
  11. The person who had a good reason to judge you, but didn’t.
  12. The person who played a small role in your major life decision.
  13. The person who served you when you definitely weren’t serving them.
  14. The person who prayed for you.

Have any of these people served you?

How false humility hides your natural gifts

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A few years ago, my office held a holiday decorating contest. We each had free reign to design and decorate our individual work spaces. This contest had no prize other than bragging rights, but it somehow developed into a very competitive affair. We all selected a theme and found time in our pretty busy days to shop and decorate. I can clearly remember going out and spending WAY too much money in a craft store. I also remember standing on a chair for well over an hour draping paper and gluing stars in the middle of an otherwise productive workday.

When judging time came, each person in the office received one vote for the grand honor of “Best Decorations.” No one could vote for themselves. Now I knew I worked with some pretty talented people, but these decorations were OVER THE TOP creative and well done. I walked around seriously wondering how I’d ever be able to pick my winner.

Then I saw it.

At the very end of a long hallway was an office space decked out in red, white and green with dancing elves. But not just any elves. These elves had individual pictures of everyone in the office pasted on them. It was brilliant.

The Office Elfs won the contest in a landslide. Why? Because most people like to see pictures of themselves. Whether we like our appearance or not, we’re drawn to look at what is physically unique about us. Our eyes. Our smile. And though I consider myself a humble person, I really enjoyed seeing the picture of my elf.

Humility is not at odds with us

Here’s how I view the practice of humility. Humility is the act of lowering our ego to cultivate compassion for and provide service to others. What humility is NOT is a reason to reduce your view of your capabilities. It is NOT an excuse to hide what is great about you.

  • Are you a writer? Are you a good writer? Share your writing. It can inspire, heal, entertain and inform.
  • Are you smart? Don’t dumb down your conversation to not intimidate people. You can stimulate new ideas and bring clarity to complex topics.
  • Do you have a hobby you know absolutely everything about? Make that known. Teach others and help create the feeling of community that comes from shared interests.

False humility goes directly against my definition of true humility. Hiding talents takes them away from the world you’re meant to be serving. You have your gifts for a reason and that reason is to use them to serve others. Don’t be shy. We need you.

Is there a gift you’ve been holding back from the world?

10 Questions to Ask a Stranger Instead of “What do you do?”

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I’ve always found career choices interesting. It is part of why I got into the business of recruiting. I probably enjoy talking about what people do for a living more than most. But even I’m tired of being asked, “What do you do?” This question isn’t serving us anymore. It is making it harder for us to make genuine connections. In fairness to the asker, I know it is just an easy way to start a conversation. What I do with most of my waking hours is a fair place to start getting to know me.

The answer to “What do you do? “ is almost always informative, but rarely authentic.

This is probably because we all get asked the question so often that we respond with scripted talking points. We could tell someone what we do while failing asleep or jumping from a plane. I’m more interested in what people choose to say when they aren’t giving rehearsed answers. So here are 10 questions to ask the next time you find yourself chatting up a stranger. They aren’t too personal, but you will likely make a more genuine connection.

  1. What do you love doing?
  2. If you hit the lottery, what would your life be like?
  3. What keeps you living in this area?
  4. Have you ever experienced a miracle?
  5. Who is your favorite person in your office?
  6. Where’s your favorite place?
  7. If you could heal one problem in the world, what would it be?
  8. When was the last time you sang out loud?
  9. What is your driving like?
  10. How do you serve?

What’s the best question a stranger ever asked you?

How to say “I’m sorry.”

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I'm Sorry

I’m giving up chicken for Lent. Which may not seem like a big deal, but it’s only been a day and I’m already feeling signs of withdrawal. I knew this would happen. I picked chicken specifically because I knew it would be hard to give up. I knew it would stay on my mind. And I knew it would frequently remind me of the discipline required by faith.

If you are a regular reader, you may have seen the post about Gary Chapman’s Love Languages. If not, you can find my Love Language post here. But let’s move on to apologies.

Top reasons to learn how to apologize

  1. If you’ve ever loved anyone, there have been times you’ve hurt them.
  2. If you ever plan to love anyone, there will be times when you hurt them.

In any relationship, learning how to apologize is as critical a skill as learning to show you care. The reason to learn someone’s apology language is to build discipline around how you seek their forgiveness. It helps you customize your words to the ones they value most. You probably default to the Apology Language that you prefer to receive. This is not always the one your friend, spouse, or child most wants to hear from you.

The Five Apology Languages

  • Expressing Regret: “I’m sorry. I should not have done that.”
  • Accepting Responsibility: “I’m sorry. This is all my fault.”
  • Making Restitution: “I’m sorry. I will make it up to you.”
  • Genuinely Repenting: “I’m sorry. This will not happen again.”
  • Requesting Forgiveness: “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”

Which one sounds best to you? Not sure? Click here to take Gary Chapman’s Apology Language quiz. Be sure to share your results and have those close to you take the quiz as well.

We are teaching about personal relationships this weekend to the teens in our leadership group. Apology Languages will undoubtedly come up.  Forgiveness is a complex topic and the teenagers always leave me with a new perspective. That’s why this post is destined for a Part II, because sometimes an apology isn’t enough.

Does giving an apology count as service?

Team comes first in March. Find your service inspiration bracket-style.

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College Basketball

As a fan, I may get too passionate about my sports teams. There are unconfirmed stories out there about tearful losses. As a mother, I try not to push sports too hard on my sons. They don’t need to be super stars. I just need them to learn what it means to be part of a team. So much of life’s success gets determined by our ability to be a good teammate.

Team Human

Team Friendship

Team Marriage

Team Family

Team Work

Team Community

Team World


Being a part of a team teaches you to focus on the world outside of your own needs. Being a part of a team teaches you to give more than you take.

The month of March is a fantastic time to enjoy college basketball. (And I plan to partake of my fair share). March is also a great time to serve all the teams listed above.

Below you will find a link to the Simply Service “Service Madness” bracket. There are 64 acts of service ready to face off against each other. See which ones you’re most inspired to do this month. May the best service win!

Service Madness Bracket


CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD: SimplyServiceMarchBracket

What lessons have sports taught you about service?

Seven ways to serve while sitting behind the wheel.

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Little Girl Behind Wheel

Seriously, more snow? Yesterday wasn’t a major accumulation, but it was enough to create lots of traffic. I grew up just outside of New York City so I should be used to traffic. But I’m a closeted country girl. I dream of traveling on uninhabited roads instead of congested highways. But, the country is not where I live. So I spend plenty of time in my car navigating traffic each day.

And I’m not out there alone.

If you’re out there with me, here are seven ways to serve while sitting behind the wheel.

  1. Sing and car dance to your heart’s desire, especially when you’re at a light. It spreads the joy to those watching.
  2. Respect the “fast lane”. If you don’t plan to drive fast (meaning faster than the cars in the other lanes) please move over. This is not a demand. You have a right to be in the fast lane at any reasonable speed. But, respecting this unspoken rule is much appreciated by your fellow drivers.
  3. Show some love. If you see a car with the name of a team or school you support, give them a “thumbs up”.
  4. Be honest about your sense of urgency. Decide if arriving three minutes later would make a difference for you. Sometimes it truly does. Safely rush if you’re in a rush. Yield to another car that needs to enter into traffic if you aren’t.
  5. Grant forgiveness. There have likely been times when you were driving too slow or made an incorrect maneuver. You were probably lost, tired or distracted. It happens. Give your fellow drivers a break.
  6. Never do it. Get serious about never driving while texting, under the influence, or exhausted. And don’t underestimate exhaustion. Similar to texting and being impaired, exhaustion has been proven to put lives at risk.
  7. Smile! People are all around you. Many get a chance to briefly enjoy your smile. Share it freely.