Complacency often causes people to make the following types of comments:
“That wasn’t very hard.”
“You should see what Joan’s husband gets done on the weekend!“
“Well, that’s what a woman is supposed to do!”
“I make dinner all the time!”
“That’s nothing. You should see what I got done today!”
It’s as disheartening to have your efforts dismissed as it is to have them completely ignored. Discounting or ignoring the contributions of others causes people to feel insignificant, defensive, and resentful, which results in:
1. Their withholding further effort,
2. Feeling bad about themselves,
3. Becoming critical,
4. Withholding appreciation for others, and
5. Holding back love.
In contrast, the more a person recognizes the efforts of others, the more good-will they build up. Instead of feeling downcast, defeatist, and defiant, people who are appreciated become confident, cheerful, and giving.
Another benefit to showing plenty of appreciation is that it becomes easier to provide occasional constructive criticism without causing hurt.
If you fall into a pattern where each person disregards or ignores the efforts of the other, it takes enormous determination to break out of that pattern. For a difficult period of time, it may be a one-way street of recognizing the positive in the other person before you receive some appreciation yourself. It helps to remember that people who are unappreciative and cynical are simply protecting their own vulnerability.
If the other person says, “So what? I do a lot too,” you can respond, “I know you do a lot, and I appreciate that. However, it makes me feel better, even happy, when you recognize the things I do as well.”
You may have to ask for some appreciation — without sounding whiney or demanding. You could ask with a smile, “How do you like the delicious dinner I made?” Or “I worked really hard today; I need some love and appreciation.” Such requests should be made with kindness and gratitude because any hint of criticism or complaint may cause a backlash of ill will.
We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.
by Alison Poulsen