"Thank you." So good to hear. So simple to say. So, why are so many folks longing to hear it?
There is little that goes further towards improving relationships than a genuine 'Thank you." You know that. Why, then, do so many folks have difficulty with it?
Are we moving too quickly to notice what others do for us? Do we just expect so much that we fail to acknowledge the little things? Is there some small part of us that refuses to give what we're not getting?
You have probably heard "It's part of your/his/her job. It's your responsibility. " Sure, it may be. Does that mean that it does not deserve acknowledgment? You can bet it would be acknowledged if it was not done!
At home, we often take each other for granted. We 'expect'. We say things like, "If you really loved me, you would _______." Those are expectations delivered in a bartering mode. Where is the appreciation for what they do? Do you expect that the garbage will go out or the dishes will be put away? Why? Because it's their job? How about saying 'Thank you'? Everyone likes recognition for the things they do. It's a very easy habit to acquire.
Ever lived with teenagers? The easiest way to engage them is to catch them doing something right. That means saying 'Thank you' when they do it, too. If you think this is too easy, try it for a month. Tell them what you see that you like, what you like about what they are doing/wearing/thinking. Forget about adding anything about what you don't like. You'll see the relationship change positively. Still sound too easy? Try it!
Simply look and you'll find many things each day worthy of acknowledgment. Stop and appreciate what IS being done for you...and, say so.
William James, the great American psychologist, said, "The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated." Is there a part of you that longs to be seen, recognized and acknowledged? Every person feels better when they are appreciated.
Let's not be too busy, or too important, to stop, see, and acknowledge the contributions of others. And, once is not enough. Each time the garbage is taken out or the report is handed in, each time they bring you coffee or extend themselves on your behalf, say 'Thank you'.
There is another side to appreciation. It is equally as important as recognition. William James calls it wisdom. He says, "The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook." Ah! That's worth thinking about, isn't it?
Do you know what to overlook and when to overlook it? That can only happen when you step outside of yourself, your needs and wants, and see another person wholly. When you can calibrate what is most important at any given moment in a relationship, you are very wise.
Often, when I am working with workplace teams, conflict is worst when folks do not know what to overlook. When tempers flare and approaches differ, nitpicking escalates. When deadlines loom and funding fails, fingers point. A wise person takes a step back and looks at the whole picture. What is happening here? What do we want to happen? What outcomes do we want this exchange to create? This is the time to focus on appreciation and follow it with team problem-solving.
The same is true in all relationships. If things are getting tense, reflect on the last time you felt appreciated. More importantly, when was the last time you found something to appreciate in another? This could well be at the bottom of the anger, frustration, fear or hurt that you are feeling. You can fix this with good communication and assertion skills.
Start with yourself. Give first. Demanding to receive when the other person is feeling empty will only escalate the negatives. Whoever is most sane at the moment in any relationship is the one responsible for that relationship. Let that be you.
Appreciation is never wasted. Find things to acknowledge. Notice what others do well. Catch them doing things right. Notice what others do for you. Offer your thanks. You'll feel better. And, very soon, it will come back to you. I promise.
Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
Keynotes, Seminars & Coaching for entrepreneurs & professionals who want the motivation & strategies to achieve, to lead and to live richly. Creator of the Living Richly