Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love the gift giving, the kindness, the generosity, the food, the family and friend vibe and the decor. What I love most about Christmas is the thread of love that runs through it.
Love crosses cultural and social barriers. The same can be said for appreciation. Everyone, everywhere wants to know that they are appreciated and seen, yet in relationships everywhere from friendships to family to work appreciation is dormant. Why? For most of us, we are not practiced in the art of giving and receiving appreciation. We give it clumsily, infrequently, and we receive it just as awkwardly. Society has trained us for the most part to be on the defensive and well-versed in voicing negative opinions and emotions under the guise of being “realistic, honest, practical, blunt, etc…” While there is a place for calling it like it is there is a fine line between being realistic and cynical or critical. Often as people we branch into cynical and critical.
Perhaps we give little appreciation because we have not received much ourselves. The reality is human beings are brilliant at learning from examples or modelling. Interesting?
Like everything in life, appreciation takes practice and time. It is a conscious effort of seeing a person’s worth and value beyond their faults and flaws or the relational issues.
The Benefits of Appreciation
When I talk about appreciation, I am talking about the deep, unspoken truths and values that every person has within them that is left unacknowledged. I am referring to going beyond the simple “Thank you”, “You’re awesome” and “I appreciate you”. People are thirsty for the details and we need to give them those details.
What are the benefits of appreciation?
Appreciation gives a person the message that they are noticed, valued, needed, and important. The effects of appreciation go deeper than the eye can see. Appreciation says “You are fantastic and I love having you in my life.” It has the beautiful effect of lowering defences and diffusing offense. When people are appreciated, they want to do more and be more. It is one of the best ways to boost a relationship. It is one of the key vitamins to relational well-being.
Commitment in relationships increases as does the level of deep, open communication in which the person will happily express the happenings of the heart. Appreciation creates a safe place and an atmosphere of acceptance where each person in the relationship feels accepted and safe to be their authentic selves. People’s love tanks increase and their personal and relational happiness soars.
Below are some of the ways to show appreciation:
- Look at the person’s strengths – what are they good at? How do you know they are reliable, trustworthy? What is it that draws you to them? Every person has strengths and those strengths very rarely change since they are woven into the core character of a person. “I love that you are intuitive in business. It helps keep this company going and stimulates an awareness of the broader picture.”
- Notice the person – Watch your friends, colleagues or partner. What is it that they are good at, love, do. Notice when your partner does something for you even if it is making a cup of coffee or packing the dishwasher. For example, “Honey, I want to thank you for packing the dishwasher for me. It was a relief to know that it had been taken care of. I love that you are sensitive to my needs.”
- Intentionally focus on the positive in all your relationships instead of allowing the negative things to irritate you. This takes hard work in the beginning but it is worth it.
- The goal of appreciation is to increase acceptance and value in your relationships.