The ability to show appreciation to the important people in our lives is heavily underrated. When we feel under-appreciated, it can start eating away at our relationships. We may start to feel taken for granted, or taken advantage of, and get a sense that our partners, family, or friends don’t actually regard what they bring to our lives.
If you take the time to make someone a cup of coffee every day, and they never say ‘thank you’, and act as if it your job to do this, after a while you may start to become annoyed at the person. In our lives, we serve many figurative cups of coffee, and other people do the same for us, in whatever form this may actually take. Just like we want to be appreciated, so do others.
Here are seven ways to show appreciation.
1) Say “thank you”. It seems like this is a given, but people usually throw the words “thank you” out as an attachment to “see you later.” Take the time to give a sincere thank you to people you care about. For example, “I really appreciate you making dinner tonight. You really made my day easier. Thank you.” Or, “Thank you for taking the time to talk to me about this issue. Your listening really helped ease my mind.”
2) Recognize “little things”. We often pay the most attention to the bigger, more obvious things people do for us, but opportunity to show appreciation comes in many forms. Recognize the smaller things and make it clear to your partner (or friends or family) that their efforts are meaningful.
3) Reciprocation. This is very important in all of our interpersonal relationships. There are different kinds of reciprocation. One kind is direct — a friend is there for you when you need to talk to someone about a relationship issue, and then when your friend needs someone to talk to, you make sure to be there for your friend. Another kind of reciprocation is less direct but tends to be equal in weight of effort — your partner shopped for food, so you cleaned the kitchen. Reciprocation is a way of showing that for every ‘take’ you want to give back. It’s not necessary to keep score in a relationship, but as a general rule, giving whenever possible is probably balancing a previous take — you can never give too much.
4) Phone calls on birthdays. Nowadays, the Facebook wall and text messages are the popular ways to send a birthday wish. Giving a phone call can be a very effective way of telling a person that you appreciate them and what they bring your life. It’s not only having the personal contact by phone, but it’s also showing that remembering their special day was important enough to you.
5) Do a “favor” for your partner/family/friends. These “favors” are things that you know they like or want, but that you may not enjoy doing as much. With partners, this can be running errands, giving massages, cooking, cleaning, taking care of something child-related, and so on. With other family and friends, this could be doing a specific activity that means more to them, babysitting, pet-sitting, or any other opportunities for favors that arise. The idea is to do for them, even when it’s not equally for you.
6) A small, meaningful gift. Contrary to some belief, it doesn’t take spending money to show appreciation, as can be seen throughout this list. At times a small gift can be an acceptable way to show appreciation, but it doesn’t have to be a purchased gift. Make something meaningful. For example: some may appreciate homemade cookies, or maybe a photo album of meaningful events together. The creativity of the gift is up to you, but make sure it has relevance to the other person. Don’t simply find something you like and give it to them.
7) Be open to learning about yourself. In our relationships, a time may come where things are just not clicking. There may be disagreements, arguments, and periods of time where being around each other is challenging. If you appreciate the person (whether it’s a partner, family member, or friend), show them that you’re willing to understand what you bring to the table when things aren’t clicking — that you’re willing to do your part to improve the situation and not leave it to the other to make the changes. This effort goes a long way in showing appreciation in our relationships.
The best thing about these methods is that none of them need to take too much time. Obviously, not all of them will be easy for everyone, but choose the ones that work for you, and work on developing the ones that are more challenging. Being able to effectively show appreciation can add strength and stability to all of our relationships.
Phone photo available from Shutterstock