Most folks are their own worst critic. They work to accomplish things then move onto the next thing, without taking the time to celebrate themselves or their wins.
The problem there is that if you can’t start with appreciating yourself, it’s difficult to appreciate others.
And appreciating others can reap HUGE rewards in your life.
So how can you express appreciation?
Learning to Appreciate
It turns out that appreciation is both an attitude and a skill. Empty platitudes are meaningless. Therefore, before you can learn how to express appreciation toward others, you must first learn how to feel appreciative.
Try these four steps to learn to feel appreciation:
1. Appreciate the world around you
Take a few moments in each day to notice useful or beautiful things around you and smile at them. Imagine what the world would be like without them. Take a deep breath and be thankful for their existence (and keep smiling!).
2. Express your appreciation of the world to others
Tell a friend how much you appreciate breezy spring days or hot tea in the morning. Learn to verbalize your appreciation.
3. Practice appreciating yourself
At the end of each day, ask yourself “What can I truly be proud of today?”. Say it aloud or write it down. Practice recognizing in yourself the type of things you want to appreciate in others.
4. Express appreciation to others
Tell people that you appreciate them and why. If it feels strange, start with people where you have few power dynamics or attachments, then move onto employees, colleagues and loved ones.
Express Your Appreciation
Learning how to appreciate others is only a first step. Sincere appreciation gets amplified when you express it in certain ways.
When expressing appreciation:
Make “I” Statements
Being appreciative is about how you feel, not the other person. Thus, avoid “you” statements and focus on “I” statements. Tell them how you feel, not what they are. Don’t say “You are so organized”, say “I appreciate you being so organized because it means I can focus on the bigger picture.”
Avoid vague or broad language. Be specific in what you appreciate. Don’t say “You’re awesome”, say “I appreciate that you’re so punctual.”
Recognize the Exceptions
When someone does something that requires extra effort or under tough circumstances, recognize them for it. Say “I know we had a tight deadline for the proposal, but I appreciate you putting in the extra effort to make sure it got out on time.”
Appreciate the Exceptional
But appreciate the unexceptional too. Notice when people do things right and thank them for it. Too often we pay attention only when things go wrong. Be thankful for the good things as well. Imagine what life would be if they weren’t there.
When appreciating something someone did, explain not only how you feel, but the positive consequences of what they did on your life. Recognize their part in your life. For instance, “Thanks for editing my application, your input will help me get approved.”
How to Express Appreciation – What to Say
A sentence structure that can be useful to express appreciation is:
When I saw/heard/experienced…
For instance: When I saw you speaking on stage, I felt proud of you because I know how hard it was for you to overcome your fear of speaking.
Use this structure verbally or in writing.
Consider the Medium
Finally, consider the method of expressing your appreciation. For the deepest appreciation, consider a handwritten note.
Don’t wait to write a note, though. Express your appreciation via phone, text or e-mail. Get creative and leave a cupcake on their desk with a note of appreciation or use magnetic poetry to write a note of appreciation to your spouse on your refrigerator.
If you really want to make expressing gratitude easy, implement helpful systems. SendOutCards is a platform with which you can automate your cards and gifts, all with a personalized touch.
What you focus on grows, so when you put your attention on appreciation and gratitude and use the simple steps in this list, you’ll be shocked at how your life changes in all areas.