Lesson 29: The small things matter

Attention to detail.  This sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  It should.  I have said it before.  I will say it again because this deserves a section in itself.  Pay attention.  Learn to listen.  Big things have a big impact, but so can the little things.  If you ignore them enough, that impact can be devastating.  Remembering a birthday, anniversary, special event, etc. are easy, and even if you don’t think so, you can mark it on a calendar without it seeming bad.  The small things are another matter entirely.  These can be the things that seem innocent, but can end up blowing up in your face without warning.  

Don’t be afraid to write things down.  If you don’t want the other person to know you are keeping notes, then be discreet.  Figure out a way or different ways to record things that will help you remember and are not so obvious.  For example, a favorite of mine is when I go shopping with someone (girlfriend or family member) and they make a positive comment about something, I view it as a potential gift opportunity.  I always go to do a price comparison online, unusually Amazon.  When they aren’t looking, or after the comparison is made, I will save it to my cart or take a screenshot so that I can look into it at a later time.  This is just an example of note taking.  

While writing these things down can demonstrate to the other person that you care, they can also show that these details are “not important enough” for you to put the effort into remembering.  This will depend on the person you are with and how they personally interpret your actions and the meanings of those actions.  Is that the case?  Maybe it is, hopefully not.  Either way, these are the things that can really show someone how much you truly care for them and how important they are to you.  Have an open and honest discussion about it if you have any concerns that it might be taken in a way you didn’t intend.  There are worse things than having trouble remembering things.  Having things get misinterpreted can be so much worse.  

You might be asking yourself what some of these “little things” are.  That is a fair question and in all honesty, I don’t have a 100%, one size fits all, good answer for you.  It depends entirely on you and the person you are with.  You need to learn what is important to them, both big and small.  They can be as simple as responding to a text message, giving a hug and kiss goodnight before going to sleep, taking out the trash without them having to ask, preparing the food they like in the way they like it without having to say something about it, the list goes on.  The only ways to know for sure are to pay close attention, ask questions, and make sure the communication is constant.

Simple truth.  The problem with the small things is that they are small.  They are sometimes difficult to see.  They are sometimes difficult to hear.  They are sometimes difficult to notice.  Anything that is small is easy to miss and is also easy to ignore.  The thing is small and therefore has minimal impact if any, or so you might think.  What is it they say about assumptions?  Just don’t make them.  Think of all those little things like water in a glass.  A drop of water in a tall glass seems like nothing, but a lot of drops into that same glass and it starts to fill up.  If you let that go on for too long without taking any action, what happens?  It starts to overflow and results in a mess.  

But Matt, it’s just water.  Easy to clean.  You would think so right?  But what happens when that mess goes unnoticed?  Someone could slip and fall.  Someone can get hurt.  It is seemingly innocent until it isn’t.  The small things can build up and lead to one big problem.  The small things in a relationship all have one major thing in common.  The relationship.  They all add up to you not paying enough attention to the relationship, which will eventually cause unnecessary struggle and hardship.  Pay attention to everything, big and small.  It all matters in the long run.

Takeaways:

  1. Attention to detail.
  2. The little things can have a big impact.
  3. Don’t be afraid to write things down.
  4. The details will depend on who you are with.
  5. Ask questions and pay attention to the answers.

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