How do we usually show appreciation -- both at work and to our spouses and children? The same way we show criticism (only less often)? Appreciation is often:
Non-specific: "You are terrific, Jorge. You really are a team player."
Characterizing: "You are so patient and kind, Priya."
While it may feel good to be praised, none of these praising statements will result in increased long-term motivation nor commitment to the praised-for behavior. Mom is an observer, not an active participant in the conversation. Jorge has no idea what his boss appreciates -- perhaps it's his coming into the office on Saturday?. And Priya may believe herself to be neither patient nor kind!
Think back to the last time you showed appreciation to someone else? Can you remember your phrasing?
Adapted from The Seven Languages for Transformation: how the way we talk can change the way we work by Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan. (c) 2001 Jossey-Bass
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