While there is no absence of books on how men should learn to express their emotions, have you seen it first-hand? Have you seen it more in younger generations then in older ones?
For both men and women it is a rare phenomenon to practice expressing deep gratitude to those that have made a real difference in our life while everyone is alive and well.
Here’s some both startling and encouraging news. I just spent a year of my life traveling about the United States and even abroad to visit with those people who had made an important difference in my life so I could express my deep gratitude. I visited with 44 people, 80% of whom were men.
During these extended conversations, not one of these men was uncomfortable receiving my heartfelt expressions of appreciation for their contributions to my life. Just the opposite – they were touched and honored by this gift of gratitude.
“I felt it was a gift of self recognition” described one very big-time executive.
It was enlightening for me to learn that even very smart people aren’t aware what they’ve said or done has made such a difference. The impact of my expression of gratitude was manifold. Not only did it feel good for the person to know they had made a difference, they were more alert to the possibilities of helping others in a similar way in the future.
These relationships had been long and meaningful, averaging some 25 years. My expressions of gratitude were neither superficial nor based on a singular event. They were reflections on the variety of ways they had influenced me and how each had impacted my life. Personal gifts are always appreciated. These explicit expressions of deep gratitude is what made the gift even more special.
Although the primary focus of these dialogues was for me to express my gratitude to them, without exception they took the opportunity to reciprocate. When they did, they realized the joy that comes from giving this deeply personal gift. Without exception, these men were very appreciative that I had “set the table” for this dialogue to happen and none of them missed the opportunity to take advantage of giving their gift of gratitude to me.
Almost all had acknowledged that they would have felt bad had something happened to one of us and those expressions would have remained unsaid. Several of these men have already further demonstrated their enthusiasm by setting up their own conversations of gratitude.
Almost everyone has experienced the sadness and regret from not having said what we would have liked before the person dies. We think we have paid tribute and spoken to this person when we are given the opportunity to give a eulogy at a funeral but the reality is the person who most would appreciate the expressions of respect and gratitude is no longer here.
It is clear from my year long journey that men “get it” and they are very comfortable “giving it”. And I am not referring to just 30 or 40 year olds. All ages, young and old alike.
My hope is that men and women alike will pay it forward and that expressing profound gratitude to those who have made a real difference in our lives will become usual and customary. I am confident, based on my experience that men are more than up for it.