I don’t really remember, but according to my mom, when me and my younger brother were little kids, she had a very smart strategy to lead us to love any food, even vegetables. When my younger brother eats something for the first time, if he didn’t love the food instantly, even before he can decide whether he likes it or hates it, my mom and I quickly eat the same thing, smile, and talked to him, “It’s so yummy, isn’t it?”
Then surprisingly, he always started smiling with us, and he somehow started to enjoy that food, and finished it. After that happened, he never hated that food, but always liked it.
Recently something reminded me of this story, and I thought this strategy could also be used for adults.
I’m not trying to make other people love eating vegetables, I’m not even really interested about other people’s tastes of food. Instead, I think this can possibly change how people feel about other people.
People sometimes hate some food even before they try it. The similar thing can happen about people. Sometimes, we judge other people just by their first impressions or image, and even before we get to know them, we already decide how we feel about them, and even what to do (or what not to do) with that person.
When you have a bad first impression or negative image about someone – “She looks cold.” “He’s intimidating.” “He seems scary…” “We probably have nothing in common.” – we lose a chance to know about that person, because these voices stop us from trying to have that chance.
However, even after you decided not to get closer to someone, if your close friend tells you good things about that person, that can be a game changer. When you hear your friends saying, “He might not look like it, but he’s actually one of the kindest people I know.” “I found out that she’s actually the opposite to what she looks like.” “He seems cold at the beginning, but that’s only because he’s very shy.” – you might start to think, “Oh, they are probably different from what I imagined.” “If that’s the case, maybe we can be friends.”
I might act or talk like an open-minded person, and that’s who I really want to be, but I also know that I fail sometimes. Some part of me is still secretly judgmental, and when I see someone who I think I can’t get along well, I tend to avoid to have a proper chance to get to know them. Of course I won’t do anything to hurt them, but consciously or subconsciously, I tend to try to keep a distance from them so I can avoid uncomfortable small talks.
I realized about this when I hear my close friends talking good things about someone I thought I wouldn’t like.
“You might not know much about him, but the other day, I had a very fun time with him talking about this and that…” “I think you will love her once you really get to know her!”
Hearing them, I realized, “Oh, I didn’t know but I might had a silly prejudice about him.” “Maybe if I tried to know about her more, we could have been good friends…. Why didn’t I even try?”
Even if you don’t have a good image about someone, once you hear your friends talking positive things about them, that can change how you feel about that person. “He has such a big heart.” “She always does these silly things, can’t be bored when I hang out with her!” “He can be annoying sometimes, but somehow I can’t hate him… I actually love him.” These comments easily convince me to start being interested about them.
While I’m listening people talking about good things about someone, my image about that person gradually changes. Even if they used to be “someone I don’t want to get closer”, they gradually becomes “someone I want to be friends with” or even “someone I like”. Hearing good things about someone makes me want to know more about them, and find out what I like about them.
I always wish the world could be where anyone can be accepted, loved, and live happily by being themselves. But at the same time, I always thought it could be very difficult to make it happen.
However, maybe I can start the change, by doing something really really small.
“Do you know that he’s actually very funny?” “I talked with her the other day, she’s actually a very cool person!”
You don’t need to be cheesy. It can be a very small, subtle nice comment about someone, and that can still break the wall of prejudice your friend has about someone else. By talking kind words, you can possibly give someone a chance to open their mind and make new friends.
Just like it’s hard not to smile when everyone around you is smiling, just like being surrounded by people having a happy time can make you feel happy, love towards somebody can also be contagious. Accepting someone, finding good things about someone, liking someone, can also be contagious.
Just by making small, nice comments about other people, anyone can start making the world a little more loving, positive, and kind place.
If there are people who always talk smack about someone else, I want to be the person who always speaks what I love about someone, what I respect about someone. Maybe that can’t change anything, but maybe that can. The effect will always be invisible, I can never be sure if my words can change anything, but we’ll never know, it can break a small wall between people, someday somewhere – and I believe that’s always worth trying.