I recently came to the seemingly obvious, but eye-opening (to me, at least) realization that sometimes it's OK to be simple in your response to other people's successes and major life milestones.
Inversely, this is also true when responding to someone who has just suffered a loss or a setback.
Admittedly, I have always been a person who struggled with the right words to say in such situations -- that is until I achieved a career milestone by being asked to be a guest contributor on NBC's Today Show.
I worked very hard on the segment and it took me almost a month to produce and get it on air. I didn't tell a single soul outside of my household that I was working on it, because I'm superstitious that way. So when my segment finally aired, I was bursting at the seems in excitement. I posted on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram... you namie it. I was ecstatic.
The high really didn't come down (or shall I say experience turbulence) until I had a longtime friend come up to me at a party a few days later and say, "So, I saw your post on Facebook. Were you on the real Today show, or the other one?"
"Excuse me?," I said. "I didn't know there were two."
"Well, there's the local one and the national one, and I just wanted to know which one you were on," he said.
I proceeded to explain to him that there's only one Today, and what he sees on his local station is an NBC news affiliate that does live cut-ins. I also asked him why it made a difference in his mind. I am his friend, I shared something exciting about what was going on in my life on social media and couldn't he just be happy for me, whether it was a local occurrence or a national one.
After that conversation, I thought to myself that I would have really appreciated just a simple, "Hey, I heard about what you did. Congratulations!" That one line would have meant so much more to me and would have been so much more than "enough." It would made me feel like he was genuinely happy for me (and many people did say just a simple congrats, for which I am thankful), instead of making me feel like I needed to qualify my acheivements to him.
When I got home, I saw a comment from my neighbor, a fellow journalist and media professional (who has an Ivy League education, BTW), which was also perplexing. He posted on my Facebook Timeline that he was going to "key my car in jealously" over my TV appearance with a "Lol, just kidding" tagged onto the remark to somehow make it alright, I guess, in his mind.
Oy! I thought. I will be sure to never do this to anyone I know. If only these poor, insensitive guys knew... sometimes, in fact most times, it's OK to just say, "Congratulations!"
P.S. - My car is fine. And I hope it stays that way!