As in the popular sitcom, Will & Grace, I spent much of my college years and twenties in social circles that included gay men, several of whom are still my friends. I love hanging with this group of friends because they’re fun, successful, love to do the kinds of things I like to do (go dancing, stroll through art museums, have an occasional cocktail, watch romantic movies), etc. I had my “Will,” and we could talk about anything. Nothing is taboo between a straight woman and a gay man.
I also learned a critical life skill from my gay male friends. Every time they greeted me or another female friend among the group, they did so with amazing energy: “Gorgeous!,” my Will would call me, arms outstretched. And then he would add a comment about something I was wearing or my hair or choose something else positive to say.
There were times when I suspected a superficiality in this — it was a cultural norm, as is asking someone how they’re doing and not waiting for an answer — yet it never got old and it never failed to make me feel good about myself.
I came to see these behaviors as a powerful opportunity, a great way to make others feel good. I try to use these opportunities regularly — in business, in can be a great way to disarm someone otherwise intimidating or difficult and, especially in parenting, I’ve learned that it’s one of the great tools I can use to reinforce my children’s self-esteem, while noticing and encouraging positive behaviors. I also realized that it really wasn’t superficial at all. The positive things I find to say are very genuine, perhaps because I prefer to see the good in others.
It seems that few straight men have caught on to these behaviors. Perhaps it comes less naturally to heterosexual males. So guys, here’s a big opportunity for the new year:
- Greet a woman by calling her a really nice name — e.g. Gorgeous, Beautiful, Pretty Girl…
- Notice the positive and comment on it
- Recognize the beauty in everyone
Trust me, it will work wonders!