Spoken appreciation is a crucial part of good relationships. One study showed that it takes at least five appreciations to balance out one criticism. When things go wrong, we tend to focus on the negative in our partners; expressing appreciation seems impossible. Yet, when problems dominate, knowing that our partner still holds some good feelings about us makes resolution easier. So frequent spoken appreciations promote problem solving and they vastly improve quality of life for both the Giver and the Receiver.
The Form of Appreciations:
Something I appreciate (like, love, admire, etc) about you is .. It makes me feel ..
Or I appreciated (liked, loved etc) it when you said/did .. It made me feel ..
So you liked that I .. It makes you feel ..
Note, effective appreciations have two parts – Appreciation and Feeling:
1. I appreciate .. 2. It makes me feel… (Feelings are single words, e.g. “warm, loving, cared-for, sexy, tearful” etc)
The second part, the feelings offer some intimacy and connection.
In order for this interaction to work the receiver must accept the appreciation. Not: “You are only saying that because ..” or “It was nothing” or even “But you do lots for me too” etc. The Giver may be taking a risk and if you discount them repeatedly, they will feel rejected, get annoyed, triggered or withdraw from showing appreciation of any sort.
Try to make your appreciations specific rather than general; eg
|You work hard and I feel appreciative.||I appreciate that you worked so long for us today; I know it was stressful for you. That makes me feel cared-for and secure.|
|You often cook for us and it makes me feel good.||I can see the effort you put into this meal and I very much appreciate it; right now I feel grateful, warm towards you and loving.|
Not “I appreciate that at last you have ..” or “I like that you stopped doing ..” Appreciations do not even imply that there are other negative things; leave those for another time. Be generous, go for 100%!
(This is from the wonderful book “Getting the Love you Want” By Harville Hendrix.)
With thanks to Imago Therapy,
The Gentle Path to The Wound by J Musgrave,
Being Intimate by J Amodeo & K Wentworth
The Best Kept Secret by J Reibstein
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