If you don’t already know, I want to introduce you to the 5 love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Gifts, and Physical Touch. The idea is that everybody has a primary way that they receive love in the most meaningful ways.
I’m a words type of girl, and have been since as long as I can remember. Spend tons of time with me, and I may just feel tired or burnt out. But, tell me how much you appreciate that one tiny thing I did or something I said, and I’m filled up for days with a bounce in my step.
This also breaches into my teaching career, as we learned excessively in our classes how to comment on student work in ways that are helpful and informative.
Here’s some pointers on how to show appreciation through words:
- Give a reason or example. “I love you” gets the point across, and really, it’s not that fair to ask for more than that on a regular basis. But, saying, “I love you. Seeing the way that you are always thinking of others and putting them first makes me love you even more.” Or, something like that. When my husband and I exchange these words, I am not only making hime more aware of his value but I am also reminding myself of the reasons I appreciate and love him. It goes both ways, people!
- Make it a surprise. Now, I must admit that I fall so short in this area. But, I remember specifically a time that my friend Lydia sent me a book entitled “Celebrating You.” It came in a normal mailing package, but inside, there was bubble wrap and real life wrapping paper (which was incredibly cute, of course.) The book was filled with encouraging messages, and although she wasn’t there in person to say words of affirmation to my face, it was obvious that she had spent time thinking of me & picking that book out just for me. Implicitly, that showed me my value to her as a friend. Totally unexpected, but totally heartfelt and meaningful.
- Be specific. “You’re a great friend” does not have quite the same effect as, “I really appreciated that you spent the time to take me to the airport. That was such a kind thing to do, and I am so thankful to have a friend like you.”
- Practice. As a first grade teacher, I get to make my kids develop this habit of gratitude. It’s quite precious and adorable to hear their little voices used in such a way. And, it’s amazing how their words of appreciation evolve over time. I give them the starter of, “I appreciate that…” and they have to fill in the rest. It grows from “I appreciate that you’re a good friend” to things like, “I appreciate that you always include me. Whenever I’m alone on the playground, you come up to play with me. It makes me feel happy.” Practice, practice, practice.
So, there you have it. What do you appreciate about the people around you? Who can you practice these forms of appreciation on? Who in your life would benefit from knowing just how much they mean to you and to this world?