Purposeful appreciation and gratitude towards others are some of the most powerful communication tools you can have. They are also some of the easiest to learn and apply!

It’s simple, really.  Everyone has a real need to feel appreciated. It makes us feel valued and connected. When we feel genuinely valued and appreciated, our attitude towards others and our work performance both improve. 

Positive psychology studies have consistently found that grateful and appreciative people are happier and healthier than those who are less inclined to express gratitude and show appreciation. It’s not hard to believe that grumpy, ungrateful people aren’t that happy.

In case you are wondering the difference between gratitude and appreciation, below are their brief definitions:

  • Gratitude is the skill of noticing and appreciating the positive in the world, rather than focus on the negative.
  • Appreciation is the act of noticing and recognizing the people around you in a positive way.

With that in mind, below are my top five tips to improve your appreciation and gratitude skills.

1. Be mindful.

Choose to be mindful of what is going on around you and to be “present” at that moment. Be open and receptive to giving and receiving appreciation and recognition. Pay attention and catch people doing good things, then show appreciation to them for it.  For example, say, “Betty, I appreciate that you did that!” (and specify what “that” is).

2. Focus on individual accomplishments.

Focus on individuals and their accomplishments. It’s much more powerful than acknowledging a group. At staff meetings, when someone has done a good job, acknowledge them in front of their peers. At home, announce how pleased you are with your child in front of their friends or show gratitude to your husband in front of the kids.

3. Be specific.

Be as specific as possible. Don’t just say you appreciate someone, but give a specific example, such as, “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.”

4. Give instant recognition.

When you see someone doing something positive, give them recognition as soon as possible. Timeliness is important, so don’t wait!

And, my most important tip of all:

5. Be sincere.

Don’t try to fake appreciation or gratitude for someone. People will quickly catch on to you and the impact will be null and void. In fact, it could even make the situation worse.

Gratitude and appreciation are communication skills that bring amazing results in building and improving relationships.  If you aren’t doing it regularly already, start adding gratitude and appreciation to your daily routine.

Do you find yourself wishing you could be a better communicator both at home and at work? Learn these skills and develop the self-confidence you need with my new online course, Communication Skills for Success. For any questions or to learn more, you can also contact me for a free 30-minute consultation.

Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She coaches small business managers on HR issues and provides training on workplace communication to organizational groups.

In addition, she hosts a twice-annual Women’s Summit that brings women together to learn how to become more confident communicators.

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