Anyone who has ever been in a leadership position may be familiar with the term “two positives and a negative” when describing how best to give a critique. This phrase implies that for every negative thing you have to say, it should be accompanied by at least two positive things. It’s no surprise that folks tend to respond better when they feel like they’re already on the right track, and are given the credit they deserve. This same philosophy extends infinitely further than just “employee/employer”, “parent/child”, or “captain/team-member” relationships, and can be utilized in maintaining one’s mindfulness by reminding yourself to acknowledge when things are good.
What is an appreciation?
In essence, an appreciation is a verbal expression of positivity. These can come in the form of a compliment, a sincere thank-you, or a statement about how this person has made your day better. Above all else, an appreciation is your attention! It’s a moment in time where you pause and let them know they are truly, well... Appreciated!
Practice makes perfect!
To get the most out of appreciations, it’s important to focus on intention. There’s definitely a happy medium between saying the bare minimum, “thank you” to the hugely exaggerated “oh wow thank you so much you’re a super-hero, you’re wonderful, I don’t know what I would have done without you, I cannot thank you enough!” Neither of these thank-yous will have the same impact as “I appreciate you taking the time to help clean up after the party. You’ve made my night less stressful”. Taking the time to be specific and direct with your appreciations make them more meaningful. When you’re so used to blurting out mediocre appreciations as a social nicety, it’s tough to remember to pause, think about what you would like to specifically say, and speak with intention! Practice, practice, practice.
Redirecting appreciations inward
This all sounds great, I’m sure. For other people. Even though everyone can benefit from being nicer to one another, how does that outward kindness work as a form of self-care?
It works in its ability to rewire how you speak to others, and in turn, how you speak to yourself. That old “two negatives and a positive” trick works for yourself as well. Practice “appreciation affirmations” - think of things you like about yourself and utilize the specific, direct, and intentional voice. Rather than, “I am smart” go with “I am always learning, I finished that tough novel, and I am able to use my personal knowledge to help others.” We’re forever our own worst critic, and changing the voice of that critic can lighten your emotional and mental load.