Arrows of Appreciation

When there is tension or conflict in a relationship, we are encouraged to speak using “I” statements—“I get worried when I don’t know you’re working late,” or “I wish we could make more of an effort to spend quality time alone.” “I” statements attribute responsibility to the speaker for his/her own perceptions and feelings.

“You” statements, such as, “You never let me know when you’re going to be home late,” or “You spend too much time with your friends,” can put the listener on the defensive from the start. In a way, a “you” statement is like shooting an arrow right at your partner. If it precedes negative, accusatory, or blaming words, they are going to feel the sting and likely react in just as prickly a manner. arrow

But what if you were to lace that arrow with words of appreciation, affirmation, and gratitude instead?

“You always know what to say to make me laugh.”

“You are such a great husband/wife/listener/friend.”

“You are beautiful/handsome/amazing/loved.”

How do you think your partner would react? How would you react to such direct praise?

We asked our Facebook followers to tell us what appreciation means to them (in one word), and here are their responses: valued, empowered, thankful, important, motivated, needed, respected, validated, healed, understood, heard, cherished, and loved.

With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we can sometimes take each other for granted; don’t underestimate the power of small statements of appreciation and affirmation.

Dr. Richard Marks, Ph.D., MFT, and PREPARE/ENRICH Seminar Director agrees:

“Research shows that people who hear frequent appreciations feel better about themselves, produce more, and serve more. Feeling appreciated is important to healthy relationships and work teams. It is also important to one’s sense of being valued.  Whenever you share an appreciation with another, their brain hears the appreciation and releases dopamine.  Dopamine is a neurochemical that, when released, produces a feeling of pleasure.  How many dopamine ‘shots’ do you give your employees, colleagues, spouse, and children each day? May we begin to value not just being appreciated, but [the act of] appreciating.”

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