The Feeling People Get When They Are With You

Today I learn in a meeting all about the emotions people experience when they think about certain brands. When an organization decides what kind of emotion they want to invite, they begin to make branding and marketing decisions that cultivate that emotional experience. It was fascinating how the participants in this meeting all knew what words they associate with certain brands or organizations. (Volvo = safe, Disney = magical / happy, Apple = cool or hip.)

As I thought about what I was learning, I wondered about people, not just companies. I wondered about how I organize my own life and what feeling people have when they spend any amount of time with me. Or, to put it differently, is there a word that summarizes the emotional landscape of my writing, teaching, parenting, and friendships?

And, more importantly, what word would I choose? And how would I make different choices to reflect this word? I thought about how, for example, I want to be a delight to others. I want my family to experience delight and my students and neighbors to feel delight after spending time with me. Perhaps this means I make more room for joyful, rather than frantic or hurried interactions. Perhaps this means I choose activities and media that foster delight rather than negativity.

I could choose different words, too. Words like creative, loved, understood, inspired, or empowered.

I decided to ask my oldest daughter what emotion she experiences after being with me. “Be totally honest,” I said.

She said, “Accepted.”

And I realized that I like that more than even delight. And now I’m wondering what it means to make choices in my day to allow others to feel completely accepted.

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