You shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you really mean it. Then you should say it a lot. People forget that. ~ Jessica, Age 8
Appreciation ~ the act of noticing and recognizing the people around you in a positive way.
Everyone has a real need to feel appreciated and valued. Showing genuine appreciation is one of the most powerful communication tools you can develop. It will open doors to better conversations, more positive exchanges, and ultimately better relationships both at work and at home.
Here’s some interesting data from a study by the University of Washington:
People that receive regular appreciation are 5 times more engaged and productive.
And here’s what’s really happening:
The ratio of positive to negative feedback at work is 1:10. That means that for every time we are appreciated or given positive feedback, we receive negative feedback 10 times.
At home it’s even worse:
The average ratio of positive to negative feedback is 1:14 with our children. That’s one positive comment to every 14 negative comments or feedback. Yikes!
In successful long-term relationships, an average day has 9 positive to 1 negative interaction.
Appreciation is like a muscle. You need to use it to make it stronger. Even though we know the power appreciation has, sometimes we just don’t get around to practicing it on a regular basis.
Let’s flip that appreciation ratio around and build up that appreciation muscle.
How to Build Up Your Appreciation Muscle
1) Be mindful of what is going on around you and be “present” at the moment.
Be open and receptive to giving and receiving appreciation and recognition. Pay attention and catch people doing good things. Do it often.
2) Focus on individual accomplishment.
Individual recognition is more powerful than acknowledging a group. At staff meetings, when someone has done a good job, acknowledge them by name in front of their peers. And tell their boss! At home, announce how pleased you are with your child in front of their friends, or of your husband in front of him and the kids.
3) Be as specific as possible.
When you offer appreciation, describe the impact of what was done. Most people like to hear “you did a good job”. However, adding a comment on the difference they made can make the appreciation impact even greater. Don’t just say you appreciate someone, give a specific example: “I appreciate you tracking me down for a phone call when I wandered away,” or “You did a good job of putting your clothes away today,” or “Dave, I appreciate you for taking the lead on that research. It’s really making a difference in the quality of the report.”
4) When you see it, say it.
Give the recognition as soon as possible after you see something to appreciate. The impact of the feedback fades the longer you wait to give it. Timeliness is important, so don’t wait!
5) Make appreciation a daily habit.
Go out of your way, at least once every day to appreciate someone. Give a compliment or tell someone they’re doing a good job. Be specific, look them in the eyes, and tell them what you appreciate about them. Get in the daily habit of appreciating others at work, at home, at the grocery story — everywhere!
6) Write a real, live, handwritten note.
This is the ultimate, advanced level appreciation action that will make anyone’s day/week/year.
Take the time to sit down and write a handwritten note to someone. Describe their qualities that had an impact on your life, such as courage, loyalty, support, kindness, wit, or persistence. It doesn’t’ have to be long – just thank them for being an influence on your life. This is a super powerful experience for the receiver and the giver!
And, finally, TRY THIS BONUS EXERCISE:
Who and what have you not fully appreciated?
List all the people and things in your life for which you are grateful. In some special way, say “Thank You” and show your appreciation to the people who mean the most to you.
Visit your list often. You will find the power of appreciating others is pretty satisfying for you, too!
Did you know Cornerstone hosts a twice-annual women’s summit, Confident Communication: A Women’s Summit? This full day of professional development and training is for and about supporting women who want to become inspired and confident communicators. It’s packed with dynamic content that includes expert speakers, table conversations, and opportunities to practice with each other in a safe and supportive environment.
Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, business coach, and expert in workplace communications. She is the author of two books on communication, and a newly published journal, Intentional Gratitude.