Feeling appreciated is something we all want. It’s not because we’re insecure or whiny. It’s because we have a limited amount of time and energy; when we spend it on something that isn’t appreciated, it can start to feel like a waste of those precious resources. And when our options are limited for how to spend our time, for example due to financial or personal obligations, it can be incredibly demoralizing.
However, sometimes the problem is not that we aren’t appreciated; it’s that people haven’t effectively communicated their appreciation. And that’s not necessarily their fault. Maybe they are expressing their appreciation, but it is in a way we don’t recognize. Or maybe they just feel awkward expressing their genuine appreciation. Either way, there are some scientifically supported ways to show appreciation so that people can truly feel it.
The Benefits of Feeling Appreciated
Feeling appreciated can have benefits in several areas of our lives. It can improve physical and mental health, work productivity and quality, and even interpersonal relationships. These are just a few of the benefits people get when they are feeling appreciated:
When people feel appreciated, they are happier. Feeling appreciated and valued gives people a sense of satisfaction, and lets them know that their time and effort is being spent in a worthwhile manner.
Spiral of Improvement
When people feel appreciated, they aren’t stressed or anxious about whether or not they are valued. Particularly in business settings (though it holds true for some personal situations as well), when people feel valued, they are more likely to continue to improve, earning more appreciation, leading to more improvement and so on. It’s a never-ending upward spiral that allows people to become the best versions of themselves.
According to one study, women in stressful jobs were 38% more likely to have a cardiovascular event. Another showed that workers with bosses who didn’t listen or otherwise didn’t appreciate them were 30% more likely to develop coronary disease. Since feeling appreciated decreases stress, it’s likely that when people feel appreciated in their jobs, they have reduced risk of both cardiovascular and coronary health risks.
Cycle of Appreciation
When people feel appreciated, they are more likely to show appreciation to others. This allows them to pass on the benefits of feeling appreciated to others, which continues spreading all of these benefits well beyond just the initial person. By showing appreciation to just one person, you can start a web of appreciation that spreads.
Note: These are the benefits of feeling appreciated, but there are also lots of benefits to showing appreciation for others. Look for another post next week on the benefits you get when you show appreciation for others.
How to Show Appreciation
Even though most of us know that showing appreciation is a good thing, it can be difficult and awkward. Especially if we haven’t explicitly expressed our appreciation often in the past, we need to start out by being very intentional about showing our appreciation. Here are a few tips on how to show appreciation:
A simple ‘thank you’ is always nice. But to make sure someone feels appreciated, make sure you get specific about what it is you are thanking them for. “Thanks for all your help planning the bake sale. Your cookies were the best!” Or “Thank you for sending food after Bob’s surgery. It was so nice to not have to cook.” It lets people know that you were truly paying attention, and leaves no question as to what you are thanking them for.
If you’ve given someone high fives and big smiles after they put in some extra effort, they may not realize that is your way of showing appreciation. While those gestures are fine, tell them explicitly, “You did a great job on that project.” That way there is no confusion about what the high fives are for.
If giving praise doesn’t come naturally to you, train yourself to notice when people are getting things right. We’re wired to notice when things go wrong, but when things go smoothly, it can be invisible. You have to make it visible. Do this by setting a daily task to acknowledge one person’s efforts. After awhile it will start to come more naturally.
Add a Personal Touch
A heartfelt ‘thank you’ always feels good. But if someone went the extra mile, you should, too. A thoughtful gift, along with a handwritten note (remember, “be specific”) will go a long way towards making someone feel truly valued. It doesn’t have to be something flashy or super expensive, but something they will truly enjoy is always a great choice. If you’re unsure what they will like, consider using a gifting service, like EvaBot, to make sure your gift sends exactly the right message.
Feeling appreciated is something all humans crave. A great way to show your appreciation is to send a thoughtful gift and handwritten note using EvaBot.