Did you miss “Random Acts of Kindness” Week?

Random Acts of Kindness Week took place 9-15 February, 2015. But that’s o.k. if you missed the news – there’s never a wrong moment to be kind. And who couldn’t use some kindness in their life. My favorite RAK is receiving unexpected appreciation. And by that, I most certainly don’t mean compliments. Here, I explain what I mean by that and give tips on how to give appreciation to people around you.

Did someone ever say “thank you” and you were left wondering what it was really about, unsure of just what you contributed to the thanker? How about receiving a compliment, like “you’re awesome!” and again, you don’t know what it’s actually about. For me, compliments can be really tricky to hear and truly take in. Why is that? As much as I don’t enjoy admitting it, I believe it’s because I sometimes question the motivation behind the words. Is it to please me? Boost my confidence? Help me feel good about myself if I’m down? What I would really rather know is . . .

What did I do to make your life more beautiful? How did I contribute? How did my action actually fulfill something important for you?

So, when expressing appreciation to someone, adding your personal authenticity is the key. Try following these steps:

  1. Forget what you think the other would like to hear (no “pleasing” – this is often detectable because it comes across as hollow)
  2. Identify the moment or moments that you recall feeling appreciation toward the other – what happened in these moments, factually? What did the other person say or do?
  3. Get in touch with what was really going on inside you – what feelings did you experience? (e.g. happy, light, inspired, grateful, relieved . . .).
  4. Consider the deeper place in you that this person touched (e.g. harmony, connection, fun, support, safety – these aren’t feelings, but rather things that are really important for you – values, needs).

You can put it all together like this: Describe how something specific the other did or said (might be ongoing), how you experienced it (your feelings) and why it touched/meant something to you (your met needs).

A template fill-in sentence could look something like this: “When you do/did X, I feel/felt so X (and X), because it really met my need(s) for X (and X).”

It might sound clunky if you try it using that exact template, i.e. not exactly common street language. You can also try leaving out the words “feel” and “need” like this one I’d like to express to my husband this week:

When I come downstairs each morning and see you sitting with the children, eating the breakfast you made and helping them with their lunches, I am often overwhelmed with love and appreciation. I am so happy that our kids receive your daily attention AND that I can start my weekdays so relaxed and non-rushed. You contribute to me in many ways, and I often think this one tops the cake!

Now you try it out and see how it goes!

Cara Crisler
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