Do you ever feel unappreciated? Have you ever felt frustrated that something you did went unnoticed at home or at work? Research shows that feeling appreciated is more important for most people than how much they get paid (New Employee Study Shows Recognition Matters More Than Money by Victor Lipman, Psychology Today).
Yet why do we so often feel undervalued? And why do we neglect to show our appreciation and gratitude to others?
For many of us, it’s because we have never thought about how others feel appreciated. A thank you comes in many forms. It may be a verbal thank you or it may be delivered in a way that is harder for you to identify. People give and receive gratitude in different ways. What’s really important to understand is how those around you (your family, friends, co-workers) best receive it. By learning this, you will strengthen your relationships and gain a better understanding of each other.
Gratitude Can Be a Foreign Language…Literally
Let’s say you just did something nice for me and my response was “xie xie.” You’d look at me like I was crazy, right?! But I just said “thanks” in Mandarin (thanks Josie and Jadyn for teaching mom!!). What…you don’t know Mandarin? If I’m not expressing my gratitude in a way that you can understand, it’s not effective. You need to speak the person’s language for them to feel appreciated!
Gratitude By Action
Case in point…my dad isn’t a touchy, feely kinda guy. He wasn’t the kind of person who said “I love you” a lot growing up. It took me a while, but I learned that my dad shows his love more through his actions than words. For example, after I bought my house in 2001, my dad called me completely out of the blue and asked if I wanted a deck. The local high school in northern Minnesota was tearing down its bleachers and recycling the lumber, and he thought he could use it to build something for me. Before you know it I had a new deck and fence that he built completely by-hand (saving me a ton of money!). I know that he was showing his love for me by his actions… and I found actions that would express my gratitude to him in a way that he would most appreciate.
What if You Speak a Different Language?
I have a coaching client who is a “doer.” She gets it done! This quality carries over into how she shows love and gratitude…she does something. Her husband, on the other hand, is a feeler who shows his love and gratitude more through affection. These two were like ships passing in the night in this area, and it created tension and frustration in their relationship. She thought doing all of these things showed appreciation for her husband, but he wasn’t picking up on it because he was looking more for a hug and kiss.
Neither of them felt loved or appreciated until they figured each other out. Once they learned how the other likes to receive love and gratitude, things improved dramatically in their relationship. She is still a doer, but makes sure she shows affection as well. He knows he is loved because he recognizes that what she does reflects her appreciation for him.
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It’s fascinating to see how people give and receive gratitude. We all have unique preferences, even if you aren’t aware of them. While I’ve only outlined a couple here, there are many more ways to show your appreciation. Identifying other’s preferences can have a powerful positive impact on your personal and professional relationships. I know it’s worked for me personally, as my daughter Jadyn loves quality time and Josie feels appreciated when I recognize her with words of affection. Once in awhile, I also throw in a “xie xie” for fun and they love it!