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“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness” (William Arthur Ward).
ALMOST EVERYBODY THINKS OF WARMTH AS A POSITIVE PERSONAL QUALITY. Given the choice, we’d much rather deal with people who are “warm” than we would those who are “cold.” Why then do we put forth so little effort to cultivate warmth as one of our own characteristics? One reason is that we often think we are demonstrating more warmth than we actually are. If we could see ourselves as others see us, we’d immediately see the need for some adjustments. So today, let’s consider adding additional warmth to our characters.
Notice that I said characters and not personalities. Warmth is a quality that all should aspire to, but not everybody has to have what is often called an “outgoing” personality. Genuine warmth is a deeper character attribute, one that has more to do with attitude than personality. It means that we add three primary virtues to our character.
(1) Kindness. Warmth typically shows itself as courtesy, gentleness, and benevolence — a desire to give kindly help. As the Japanese proverb says, “One kind word can warm three winter months.”
(2) Openness. We often use two words to describe those who are warm: we say that they are “warm and welcoming.” In our personal dealings, we must learn to be hospitable, inviting, and accessible.
(3) Concern. To be warm means to be truly concerned about the other person. It means that we get out of the little box of our own selfish interests and demonstrate a real desire to serve those around us.
The ultimate test of our warmth is whether we can show it to those who don’t possess it themselves (and do so without being condescending or self-righteous). As Jean Paul Richter wrote, “The last, best fruit which comes to late perfection, even in the kindliest soul, is tenderness toward the hard, forbearance toward the unforbearing, warmth of heart toward the cold.” Doing this is not easy, but when we’ve learned this skill, we will have learned one of the most potent sources of influence in the world. It may not be too much to say that the privilege of influencing others comes mainly from our having learned warmth of character. But it must be genuine and not pretended.
“Warmth, friendliness, and a gentle touch are always stronger than force and fury” (Denis Waitley).