A gesture of appreciation holds gravity. Taking the time and effort to recognize what someone else has done creates a ripple of good that benefits their life and yours. You can shine a light on the best in other people and acknowledge aspects of their lives that others don’t or can’t see. To understand the gravity of recognition, here is a guide to the power of showing your appreciation with several practical ways to express it well.
Appreciation Forges Deeper Relationships
Your appreciation grows your mutual trust with a loved one. A gift or thank you illustrate to the recipient that they impressed the giver with a certain quality of theirs. If the gesture is for a pattern of behavior, such as faithfully serving in a church’s ministry, then it signals thanks for their dependability and commitment. If it’s for a one-time act, such as paying for a group’s dinner, then appreciation highlights the person’s willingness to impulsively go above what they need to do. Either way, seeing how someone gives and then you choose to send a plaque or note their way shows them you not only notice what they do but acknowledge their overall capability. A person readily trusts the people who cherish their good qualities and see them as generally capable rather than unpredictable. They trust them to treat them appropriately and perceive them as they see themselves.
Recognizing someone also makes clear that their life overlaps with yours and that you benefit from this overlap. When people understand that they affect the people they interact with, they don’t feel so alone. Feeling “with” others gives them a secure sense of connection—particularly to you. Taking the time to shine a light on what they do also gets you in the habit of attending to their impact on your life. As you foster gratitude for them, you’ll also see and deepen your connection to them. Additionally, if you acknowledge them with a gift that will last for years, this provides a durable and tangible reminder of your mutual connection.
A Few People Who Can Benefit
Appreciation has great power in relationships between family members. Family cannot really get away from one another. Because no one can determine their family, familial unrest and detachment can set in when (not if) conflict arises over time. Families can even drift apart when conflict goes unresolved. One great way to restore family unity or keep it intact in the first place is to show your appreciation for what family members do well. Give your mother a bouquet or get your brother tickets to see a sports game together. Make a point of showing them that, though you did not choose each other in the first place, that you would choose them as your mother or brother if you had free reign to decide. These good experiences and the mutual trust and connection that comes from them will help keep the bitterness of family conflict at bay or prevent conflict altogether.
There are also those who are outside of your immediate orbit to consider. Showing people who impact you from a greater distance your appreciation helps you develop new relationships and sustain existing ones. A great example of this is giving pastor appreciation plaques to the church staff as a way to show you see their efforts. If you don’t know your pastor personally, this gives you an in to get to know him or her better. Forging a connection can even benefit you if you need counseling or want to dig through a theological topic and want guidance from someone who knows your heart. A relationship also allows you to continue to encourage them as they go about caring for the congregation.
Service Members, Others
Showing service members and others your appreciation is a similar way of building relationships. Those who have served and left the military are often uniquely in need of relational support. Rather than seeing their need and disrespecting them by being too forward, giving something small and letting the relationship grow from there is a good first step. In general, many people affect your life but aren’t close enough to get a thank you. This could be your grocery store clerk, the person who makes the smoothies you buy, or your mechanic. Give the gift of appreciation and see if your gesture allows you to connect with them on a deeper level.
It Shows People They Are on Your Mind
Apart from the trust and connection you can build with people by recognizing them, you can also afford people a sense of significance, stability, and accountability by showing that they’re on your mind.
Beyond mutually connecting with others is the feeling of significance that you and they feel when exchanging a gift. They feel seen, and the fact that someone thought of them out of the blue communicates there is something exceptional about what they do and who they are. Everyone wants to know that they benefit the world and don’t burden it. Making an intentional gesture simply because you feel them worth recognizing suggests they don’t just do good, but good that impresses itself on others strongly. Further, you feel personal significance in the act of giving. Taking the time to recognize someone who goes above and beyond is a way of serving someone else. Particularly in the case of someone reluctant to see what they do as significant—your role as a gift-giver does the vital work of encouraging them and shifting their self-image. That is laudable work.
The power of showing appreciation also lies in the personal stability it affords someone. Showing someone you think of them as capable in a certain area fosters further personal growth. This is because, in others’ minds, their commitment, work ethic, or other quality is stable. This way, they don’t have to continually strive to prove something others already know about them but haven’t expressed.
Though this is not as intuitive, your gesture holds people accountable to keep up their good work. Feeling seen through a gift is the ideal way to motivate someone such as an employee because it’s pleasant and relationship-building while also setting a standard for what you will recognize. If someone is to grow personally and continue to develop a certain skill, then they will not want to slip too far beneath their past exceptional work. This can apply to every skill from social tact to not compromising your craft by taking shortcuts and doesn’t have to only relate directly to work.