“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
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
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
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.
By Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, San Diego, CA.
Founder Spiritual Living Network
All rights reserved worldwide.