International Women’s Day is today March 8. But how can we celebrate women, not only on Women’s Day, but every day? The first answer that comes to my mind is to reach out to other women. We may already support them in our hearts and minds, but unless we act on our feelings, we’re not really affecting positive change. Reaching out alludes to action. And the most positive change we can help achieve among women is to strengthen our bonds with one another, thereby making us stronger as individuals and as a group—from a one-on-one level to a global one. In fact, if we each invest the time, energy and compassion to reach out to the women we know, as well as ones we don’t know, we’re all advancing together to make a real difference. Here’s just one simple way to reach out that can make a huge difference:
Contact a woman by phone that you haven’t talked with in awhile, just to talk.
- First, ask the woman if she has a few moments, or if it’s a good time to call. She may be busy or on her way out the door. If so, offer to call again.
- If she has time to talk, ask a question that shows you’re thinking about her wellbeing, like “How have you been?” or “What’s new in your life?”
- Listen to her answers. Don’t interrupt her. (This can be counter-intuitive, since we’re prone to think about our response to someone who’s talking, rather than listening to every word she is saying.)
- When she pauses, respond in caring ways to show that you’ve been listening with empathy. Keep it about her, not you.
- Then and only then, tell her what’s on your mind. Better yet, ask another question.
- When you respond, refrain from trying to top her story with one that you think is more important or more entertaining. This is not a contest. It’s a conversation.
- Keep your answers honest, humble, and brief. It’s OK to talk about an accomplishment but soft-pedal it. Be ready to laugh at yourself. Always make her comfort a priority.
- Don’t be too anxious to close the conversation. You can afford to take this time to reinforce a connection, making it more meaningful. What could be more important?
The benefits of making this call are limitless. Although it may seem to amount to nothing— at least at first—a deeper friendship may grow out of this casual encounter. It not, there’s no harm done: At the very least, she will appreciate your effort and may even reciprocate. Nothing needs to be forced or seem unnatural.
Whatever the outcome of this call, you have every reason to feel good about it, because you put the other woman’s words ahead of your own, if only for a few moments. It’s likely to feel so good, you’ll want to do it again. So you call someone else, strike up a conversation in the grocery store, write a note to a friend, or approach another woman at a meeting or party. Before you know it, you’re making genuine friends, expanding your support network, and actively creating new ways to engage with other women, helping one another as well as underserved members of your community.
Of course, you can reach out to others every day of the year, as many times as you like. Maybe you already do. If not, you may be surprised how much joy this can create in your life and the lives of others. Perhaps that’s why engage and joy together form the word enjoyment.