The Gift of Appreciation

Dear Friends,

My team at work has the practice of expressing appreciation forteam members on their birthday. We go out for a meal and we take turns telling the birthday person how they enrich the team, in our perception. For me, this is the best part of the celebration at work. Yet, I wish I didn’t have to wait a year! I LONG to receive appreciation. I long to be seen. And, I believe I’m not alone. I believe human beings yearn to hear how they contribute to the well being of others.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) has a model to express appreciation and gratitude which I find very meaningful. First, I will say what NVC appreciation is not:
(a) It is not a means to encourage or motivate someone to do something or do more of it; (b) It is not designed to build up the other person’s self-esteem; (c) It does not contain evaluations such as “You are so thoughtful” or, “You did a good job.” We avoid the latter to refrain from judgment, albeit positive.

In NVC we express appreciation with the sole purpose of letting someone know how they enriched our life. Our intention is to express ourselves and celebrate life. There are three elements to an NVC appreciation:

1) Observation – What the other person did
2) Feeling – How we are feeling right now in connection to that action (not how we felt when the action took place)
3) Need(s) – The needs of ours that are/were met by the action

As an example, let me express a word of appreciation that is present within me right now. It is addressed to Peter’s 92 year old aunt. The numbers correspond to the numbers on the steps above.

Elaine, thank you so much for putting on your slippers on my bare feet (1) when we were chatting the other night. Thank you for holding my face on your hands and smiling (1). I am grateful (2) for your caring and affection (3).

Friends, during this holiday season, I will make it a point to express
appreciation to the people around me. Would you join me? It might be the best gift we can give one another!




About Institute for Empowering Communication

Co-founder of the Institute for Empowering Communication
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