We’ve all had moments when someone showed us genuine appreciation, and their thankfulness not only made our day, but also made us want to work even harder and be even better.
But we’ve also all been in situations where we’ve felt overlooked and undervalued. Even if the words were there, for whatever reason, the half-hearted “thanks” in passing didn’t really translate as meaningful or sincere. You don’t want to be that person!
If you’re wondering how to show appreciation in a way that makes someone feel valued and important, there are a few things you can do to make sure your gratitude comes across as heartfelt and authentic. To show appreciation in the strongest way possible, try some of these:
1. Be specific.
What are you thankful for? What did they do? The more specific you are, the more genuine you’ll come across. When my husband Matt picks up some extra chores around the house, rather than just saying, “Thanks for cleaning,” I try to take it even further. “Thank you for folding all of those loads of laundry! I had let it pile up, and you did a ton of work. I appreciate you.”
And y’all, words of affirmation is my love language, so I’m all about this. But those words don’t always come to mind right off the bat—sometimes it takes a minute to really be able to put specific words to the appreciation you’re feeling. That’s why it can be helpful to slow down, pause, and think (or even journal) about the ways the people in your life have helped you out lately. Then, share those heartfelt thoughts with them. I promise it will mean a lot!
2. Include how they helped you.
What they did affected you, your company, or the greater good in some way. When you include specific information when showing your appreciation, you’re recognizing the reason why what they did mattered.
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For example, if you’re writing a thank-you note for a financial gift, say more than, “Thank you for the money.” Expand on that a bit, 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 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, all of us have been able to refer back to them and know 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 them as a person and the character traits or qualities they have. This shows that you know them and care about them. Maybe say something like, “You’re so good at handling details, and that’s not one of my strengths, so I really admire that about you.”
And not that we’re trying to make this all about us here, but compliments say a lot about the person giving them too. Confident people compliment people! Plus, when we look for the good and call it out in others, the joy it brings them will naturally lift our own mood.
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 they don’t see it coming that makes it even more special.
So, if there’s someone in your life who you haven’t thanked lately, or someone who might not necessarily be expecting to hear from you in that way—like an old teacher, a former boss, or even your mom—take the initiative and brighten their day. Pick up the phone, send them a handwritten letter, or take them out to lunch and tell them face-to-face how much of an impact they’ve made on your life.
Even if the person you’re thanking hasn’t done something for you personally, but you see them being faithful in the little things without a whole lot of praise, go ahead and tell them you appreciate 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 that you come into work every day with such a positive attitude. You inspire me!” It can be so fun to catch someone by surprise (in the best way possible) with appreciation.
5. Give them something.
Now when I say give, I don’t mean it has to be something fancy or expensive. You could leave a latte 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 box. Get creative—showing your appreciation doesn’t have to break the budget!
There are also plenty of ways to give that don’t involve money at all. Giving of your time or your talents are totally valid ways to make someone feel appreciated. You could offer to babysit and give a busy mom a much-needed date night (or a nap). You could sit down and listen to a friend who really, really needs to vent. You could take photos or address invitations for a friend’s wedding or baby shower. The list is endless, y’all.
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! For people who have a hard time accepting thanks and praise without feeling awkward, sometimes telling a third party can help lessen the pressure of knowing what to say back to you in the moment. Give that person a shout-out in your next meeting or tell their boss they did an amazing job on a project. Tell your kids how much you admire your spouse for working so hard every day.
Keep in mind that not everyone likes being called out in front of a group, even for something good, so take the person’s personality into consideration when you’re deciding how to best show them you appreciate them.
7. Say it clearly: “You are appreciated.”
Sometimes, clearly stating your appreciation is even stronger than just saying thank you. You can end a statement of gratitude with something crystal clear like, “I really appreciate you” or “I really appreciate all of your hard work.”
When you’re specific about how the person helped you and make it personal, you come across as genuine, heartfelt and authentic—all the while ensuring that the other person truly feels valued and uplifted.
And you never know the kind of lasting effect your words could leave on someone. It reminds me of this Scripture: “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24 NIV). 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 say thanks in passing. Instead, take a few extra minutes and appreciate them in the strongest way possible.
If you want to make more time in your busy schedule to show your appreciation for others, read my book, Take Back Your Time. It will help you prioritize and say no to what doesn't matter, walk you through each of the things you do want to accomplish, and schedule everything perfectly into place.