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For as long as I have known Jim, he has worn orange clothing. When you are an athlete who runs from dawn to dusk in all weather, you need to wear super bright colours to caution vehicles to slow down or give you a wide berth.

All his friends tease him about his orange sneakers, jackets, vests and T-shirts. Even his car is orange!

“Do you own anything that isn’t neon orange?”

“Have you tried blue? I am sure it would flatter your complexion!”

“Do they have an orange section just for you at the Sports Outlet?”

Jim takes it all in with a good-natured shrug.

This fall, he met a lovely woman and was sharing with me how Kim went from girlfriend to fiancée in a few short months. I was congratulating him on his good fortune and asked what had made him propose after so many years as a confirmed bachelor.

With a catch in his voice, he said: “Well, it was the orange jacket”. He then relayed how he had asked Kim what she wanted for Christmas.  Her answer: An orange jacket, to match his! He took her shopping and helped her into a jacket in a vibrant orange hue. The colour couldn’t have been less becoming on her, but she was grinning from ear to ear, happy to be wearing his colours.

She won his heart that day with a simple gesture of acceptance. No one had done this before her.

Do you practice acceptance?

How many times do we roll our eyes at the quirks of the people in our office or in our life:

“If I hear one more story about her pet…”

“What’s with the yoga gear every day? “

“Here he goes again reminiscing about the old country…..”

When we think about it, we tend to feel truly appreciated when someone accepts us, quirks and all. We flourish when we work or live with people who show they care about what we care about.  So why not return the favour?

Acceptance leads to unexpected reward

  • Show genuine interest for his or her interests. If you can’t find it in you to endorse their practice in a big way, maybe do it in a small way. A friend of mine collects flashy fridge magnets. Not my cup of tea, but I take pleasure in bringing him fridge magnets from my trips. He beams every time.
  • Learn more about a colleague’s traditions and start enquiring respectfully about the customs she cherishes. The benefit? You can take a trip to another place without ever leaving your office!
  • Enquire about the latest developments in the area he loves and notice how he comes alive. You may be surprised by how much you will learn from him. You may even learn a thing or two about an unfamiliar hobby that will feed your small talk at the next office function.

As a coach, I like to look for what is fueling a person’s interest. Why is it so important to that individual? There is often a strongly held value behind their quirky habit or their favourite sport. Knowing this may serve you well, if and when you have to navigate choppy waters in your relationship in the future.

Stepping into someone’s world may open their mind and heart to you and may also open your heart to them.

What have you done lately to accept or welcome someone, quirks and all? I look forward to reading your comments.