Appreciation is so important in helping build relationships and ensure that both parties feel recognised and valued. Here we are not just talking about the everyday sense of appreciation (saying thank you, for example – though this is still very important) but also in the broader and perhaps deeper sense: really appreciating an other as a human being with emotions, needs, and hopes.
1. Recognize their humanity
Admittedly this is more of a starting principle than an action you can take but it is such an important starting point. Remember that everyone on this earth is fighting their own battles and no doubt struggling with their own issues. In that we are all equal. If you can be guided by that understanding – and not driven to see others as competitors or threats to your existence and choices – you will find your relationships improve.
2. Listen actively
One of the most powerful ways to show that you value someone is to practice active listening. Active listening involves responding to what they say with appropriate questions and facial expressions, waiting for them to finish before speaking, and using your voice tone and body language to show that you are engaged. It also means that, when appropriate – for example, if they are telling you something that is worrying them, that you follow-up at a later date and ask how they are doing.
3. Say thanks
It is so simple but so often forgotten. Saying thanks to someone helps them to feel that their efforts are recognized and appreciated. Practice this often.
4. Spend quality time together
This may not be appropriate for all relationships of course but for friends, partners, and relatives, one important way to show your appreciation is by spending quality time together. This helps to prove that you are willing to invest time and energy in your relationship with them and that you value their presence in your life. Days out, holidays, evenings in, dinner, a phone call – the type of activity matters much less than the doing of it.
5. Do things that make them feel special
Of course if you take all your friends out for dinner each night of the week and they find out, they may start to wonder if their relationship with you is unique. So it’s important to do things – and this counts for colleagues, acquaintances, friends, and family – that recognize the individual as being unique. It could be getting them a personal gift, asking them about something that is happening in their life, sending them an article you think they might find interesting or alerting them to the release of a film or album they might enjoy.
6. Help them
In life, everyone will experience some kind of suffering and the evidence is clear that the speed with which someone rebounds is heavily influenced by the strength of their relationships to others. You can be the reason someone recovers or works through a setback. You can be the reason that someone, no matter how bad they feel, has a sense that people care about and value them. If someone is struggling, read our advice on how to offer help.