Know your V-A-K’s of Appreciation

by Betty Lochner on December 18, 2012

Free HugYou shouldn’t save “I love you” unless you really mean it.  Then you should say it a lot. People forget that.
~ Jessica, Age 8

Everyone has a preferred way of learning and receiving information.  It’s not one size fits all.

There are three ways that our brains take in information – by seeing, hearing and feeling.  And, everyone prefers one of these over the others. I like to refer to the three ways as the V-A-K’s of appreciation. If you know a person’s preferred style, you will get the most impact by using that type of appreciation.

Know your V-A-K’s of Appreciation

  1. The V: Visual people like to see appreciation. Letters, cards, flowers, certificates, and pictures are perfect for these individuals.
  2. The A: Auditory people like to hear appreciation. For these folks, expressing thanks verbally, especially using a caring and compassionate tone in our voice, is the best way to let them know how much you appreciate them. And, if you sing, then sing to them! They will love it.
  3. The K: Kinesthetic people like to feel appreciation. They like to do things that make them feel good, like getting a massage, a hug, holding hands, or spending some quality time with someone.

Experiment with the three different ways to show appreciation, and observe how much more deeply your appreciation is received when you find the right way to deliver it for each individual.

And, when in doubt, use all three types of communication. It’s really the trifecta of appreciation:  Tell them, show them and give them a pat on the back!

For example, put your arm around your kids when you tell them how much you appreciate them and then follow up later with a card.

So, here’s my challenge to you: Get some practice in during the holidays, when everyone’s doing it.  And, then, make a goal to use appreciation as your daily communication power tool!


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home. And, it’s now available on Kindle! Check it out.

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