We’ve all had moments when someone showed us genuine appreciation. Their thankfulness not only made our day but also made us want to work even harder and be even better.
We’ve also, unfortunately, all been in situations where we’ve felt overlooked and undervalued. You know the feeling: You’ve worked really hard at something, done everything right . . . and nobody notices. Or maybe even though the words were there, the half-hearted “thanks” in passing didn’t really translate as meaningful or sincere.
When you’re trying to show someone else appreciation, you don’t want to be that person! To avoid that and show appreciation in a way that makes someone feel valued and important, there are a few things you can do.
1. Be specific.
What, exactly, are you thankful for? What did the other person do? The more specific you are, the more genuine you’ll come across. Being specific is a key to understanding how to show appreciation.
For example, if your spouse picks up some extra chores around the house, don’t just say, “Thanks for cleaning.” Instead, take it even further and say something like, “Thank you for folding all that laundry! It had piled up, and you did a ton of work. I appreciate you.”
Now, the right thing to say doesn’t always come to mind right off the bat. (Let’s face it: Word vomit is real.) That’s why it can be helpful to slow down, pause and think about the ways the people in your life have helped you out lately. Then, share those heartfelt thoughts with them. It will mean a lot!
2. Include how they helped you.
Like we said, when someone deserves an attaboy or attagirl, specifics are important. In addition to calling out the details of what that person did, don’t forget to share how it helped you! That way, you’re recognizing the reason why what they did mattered.
Let’s say you’re writing a thank-you note for a financial gift. You should say more than, “Thank you for the money.” Expand on that a bit and tell them what you used it for, like: “Thank you so much for your generous gift. We used the money for a snorkeling excursion on our honeymoon! You helped us make memories that we’ll treasure for the rest of our lives.”
Or instead of just thanking a coworker for taking notes at the last meeting, give them a few more details about how that helped you. You can say something like, “Thank you for taking notes at the last meeting. Since that meeting, the whole team has used your notes to remember exactly what we need to be working on. We’ve made progress so much faster because of it. I hope you know you’re appreciated!”
3. Make it personal.
Say something kind about the other person and the character traits or qualities they have. Give them a compliment like, “You’re so good at handling details, and that’s not one of my strengths, so I really admire that about you.”
Quick note, here: We’re not trying to make this all about you here, but compliments do say a lot about the person giving them. Confident people compliment people! Plus, when you look for the good and call it out in others, the joy it brings them will naturally lift your mood.
By the way, when you’re showing appreciation to someone, put your phone away! Be present and look them in the eye.
4. Thank them out of the blue.
Who doesn’t love getting an unexpected thank-you? If you’re wondering how to show appreciation, there’s something about when the other person doesn’t see it coming that makes it even more special.
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So, if there’s someone in your life who you haven’t thanked lately, or someone who probably isn’t expecting to hear from you in that way, take the initiative and brighten their day. You could pick up the phone and call an old teacher, or even take a former boss out to lunch and tell them face-to-face how much of an impact they’ve made on your life.
If you really want to go the extra mile, you could use an ancient technique: sending a handwritten letter. You may think that will make you seem like a dinosaur, but it’ll really make the other person feel pretty special. Nothing says “I appreciate you,” quite like a handwritten letter, and everyone loves feeling appreciated.
Even if someone hasn’t done something for you personally, you can still tell them you appreciate them and thank them for being who they are.
For example: “Hey, I know you volunteer at the shelter in your free time, and I just want to let you know I really respect that.” Or: “I’ve noticed you come into work every day with such a positive attitude. You inspire me!” It can be so fun to catch someone by surprise with appreciation.
5. Give them something.
Now, when we say “give,” we don’t mean something fancy or expensive—you don’t have to channel The Price Is Right and give someone a new car. You could leave a coffee on someone’s desk, write something encouraging on a Post-it note, bake your spouse’s favorite treat, or put a sheet of stickers in your kids’ lunch boxes. Get creative! Showing your appreciation doesn’t have to break the bank.
There are also plenty of ways to give that don’t involve money at all, like giving of your time or your talents. You could offer to babysit and give a busy mom a much-needed date night (or a nap). You could sit down and be a good friend to someone who really, really needs to vent. And if you’re the artsy type, you could make something (we have a great list of fun and budget-friendly DIY gift ideas). The list of totally valid, free ways to make someone feel loved is endless.
6. Brag on them to someone else.
There’s no rule that says you can’t tell the whole world about the person you appreciate! Give them a shout-out in your next meeting or tell their boss they did an amazing job on a project. Brag to your kids about how hard your spouse works every day.
Keep in mind that not everyone likes being called out in front of a group (even for something good), so consider personality when you’re deciding how to make someone feel appreciated.
7. Say it clearly: “You are appreciated.”
Sometimes, ending a statement of gratitude with something crystal clear like, “I really appreciate you” or “I really appreciate all your hard work” is even stronger than just saying “thank you.”
Talk about a way to make someone feel loved!
When you’re specific about how the person helped you and make it personal, you come across as genuine, heartfelt and authentic. And at the same time, the other person will feel truly valued and uplifted.
You never know the kind of lasting effect your words could leave on someone. As Scripture reminds us in Proverbs 16:24 (NIV), “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” How awesome is it that your words of appreciation could make that much of an impact?
So, next time you want to show gratitude, resist the urge to just blurt out “thanks” in passing with the enthusiasm of a zombie. Instead, take a few extra minutes and show appreciation to that person in the strongest way possible.
And if you want to learn how to deepen your appreciation of others, you should get a copy of The Contentment Journal. In it, three-time bestselling author Rachel Cruze walks you through a 90-day journaling plan to live a more grateful life. It will help you be happy with your life and happier for others. Pick up your copy today!