Seven Subtle Ways to Say "I Appreciate You"
By Violet Nesdoly
We remember to say thank you for most things, from the loan of a friend’s car to a door held open for us by a stranger. We dash off a thank-you note when we’ve received a gift. We never arrive for a dinner invitation without bringing something for the hostess. What more can we possibly do to show appreciation?
While the above are certainly a good start, we have to admit these things fall into the category of the expected. They’re really only good manners. But there are other subtle yet powerful ways we can communicate appreciation – that attitude which is aware of and tells others they are valuable and important. Try showing your appreciation of new acquaintances, friends and family in some of these ways:
1. Address people by name.
This means, first of all, remembering the name of someone you’ve just met. It’s something I’m still working on. I’ve found it helps to use memory tricks, like associating the name with another person, a rhyming word, or an acronym. One of the first women I met in the church we now attend introduced herself as Esther. "Queen Esther," I said to myself, and I’ve never forgotten her name. Also, try carrying a notebook with you and writing down the names of new people along with a physical characteristic or fact about them.
2. Note details, and ask about them later.
When talking with new friends or old, listen carefully to what they tell you. Are they concerned about an aging parent, or a wayward child? Is there a wedding in the works, a house up for sale, or a troublesome medical condition? When you meet them again, ask about the outcome of their challenge. To help with this, again, write it in your notebook, or make notes a few hours later. Writing and reviewing the details about your friends and acquaintances’ lives in this way helps cement them in your memory (and praying about them in the meantime will help too).
3. Honor special occasions with a card, email or phone call.
List birthdays, anniversaries and other special days of friends and family on file cards or on a file in your computer. But don’t forget to transfer these dates to your daily calendar or to-do list. I’ve found it helps to write myself a reminder a week in advance of the day I’m trying to remember. This way I have time to send a real card via snail mail if I choose.
4. Pay attention to wishes.
My sister recently said she wished she had an Amplified Bible. Mom is thinking of getting herself a bread machine. So guess what's on my list for the next gift-giving occasion? When we give people what they wish for (within reason of course) they get the message they’re appreciated.
5. Observe, then give appropriately.
Form the habit of paying attention to the homes of friends and family members. Note color schemes, things they collect, and decorating themes. Does your Bible study partner have a kitchen that’s all green and blue? Does your sister-in-law collect Norman Rockwell plates? Does your friend’s house look like it stepped from the pages of a history book? Make a note of these things and then, when it comes time to give a gift, you’ll show them, through your appropriate one, that you’ve noticed and appreciate their particular style.
6. Respect others’ wallets.
Are your friends in a tight financial situation? Invite them for coffee at your house, or meet at a local park instead of going to a restaurant. Suggest free or inexpensive activities that your families can do with other families – like build sand castles on the beach, play croquet or bocce in the park, rent DVDs and have movie nights in your home.
7. Serve meals with helpings of thoughtfulness.
You know how your mom always made your favorite when you came home from being away at school? Well, follow her example and serve your friends their favorites. Also, be aware of the food danger zone. If you’re unsure, ask the people you’ve invited for a meal whether they have food allergies, are on a special diet, or have dietary preferences – are vegetarian or vegan. And don’t pressure people to eat things they’d rather not – like rich desserts when they’re dieting.
Living with an attitude of appreciation all comes down to following Paul’s advice to the church in Philippi, "... in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people’s point of view. Let Christ be your example as to what your attitude should be." (Philippians 2:3-5, J. B. Phillips Translation).
Jesus showed us our value to Him by dying in our stead. We’ll probably never have to do that for someone. But when Jesus’ others-centered attitude is fleshed out in our living, our families, friends and everyone we meet will feel loved and appreciated to the deepest levels.
Violet Nesdoly writes from British Columbia, Canada, where she is still working on following her own seven suggestions. Read more about her life and interests in her blog: http://vnesdoly.blogspot.com.
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