I’ve learned, and am still learning, so much about appreciation. Appreciation is best when done with specificity and genuineness. It has the power of shifting attitudes, and behavior, mine and others. I’ve learned that it starts with appreciation of myself, and then spreads out. It can bridge connection and even conflict.
- Include self-appreciation: I’ve often heard the pathos of, “I’m not appreciated!” Appreciation starts at home, within ourselves, for ourselves. If we can’t appreciate ourselves, we will continue to expect it only from others, and get frustrated that we never get enough.
- Harness the power of ritual and habit: gratitude, appreciation, and acknowledgement. Periodically I create a ritual for 30 days to reflect on my day and write or remember for what I am grateful, what I appreciate and what I acknowledge in myself and others. Each time, I notice a shift in attitude and a sense of “filling up”.
- Give Appreciation Sandwich feedback: A well-meant appreciation opens the door to talking about a situation, conflict, or mistakes. Whether with self, at home, or at work, change takes place when difficult conversation opens and ends with a heart connection.
- Be curious and notice: Giving genuine appreciation means we have noticed small and big contributions and even efforts. We have seen moments of skills and gifts. Check out a TED by Carol Dweck on the value of acknowledging specific effort, even in light of mistakes and failures.
I knew a first grade teacher who had a hard class. She acknowledged and appreciated the acts of kindness she saw in the children by writing the deeds on a paper taped to the wall. She kept adding papers. Eventually the scroll could be rolled across the room. The kids were proud, and, overall, their behavior had improved.
Appreciation, when done from the heart, is a magic wand. It can shift relationships. It can build bridges. It is fed by our human-beingness.