402. The Power of Appreciation

I just read a friend’s response to one of my articles. He liked it. He thought it was insightful and well said. He’s going to show it to some people he knows. There are many ways growing up has changed me, but my reaction to appreciation hasn’t changed so much. I may not blush as easily as I used to, and I’ve learned sophisticated ways to articulate my appreciation of appreciation I get. But it still makes me want to do more of whatever was appreciated.
So now, inspired by my friend’s words, I’m writing another article. And maybe someone will tell me that this one is good, too. Of course, I won’t be able to show my appreciation for that appreciation the way I am now – by writing another article about appreciation. That could start to get kind of redundant.
When we don’t feel appreciated, we’re apt to do less. But when people tell us and/or show us that they like what we do, we do more. Oh, we can tell ourselves and others that we have our own reasons for what we do – that we don’t rely on appreciation. And there can be some truth to that. But still, doesn’t it feel good when someone tells you that you’ve done something well?
Children usually know what they’re trying to do, and know approximately to what degree they’re succeeding. If they’re deeply involved in what they’re doing, they can seem oblivious to comments about the quality of what they’re doing. They can even be annoyed by comments; they’d rather focus on the project at hand than listen to someone else who’s telling them what a good job they’re doing.
But more often, I think, children do want to hear that they’re doing well. And they want to be able to believe it; it usually doesn’t take long for them to figure out whether you really mean it. My friend’s comment about my article means more to me because he sometimes challenges my thinking; he doesn’t give me rave reviews every time. And when he doesn’t – when he takes issue with what I write – it’s easier to think about his challenges because I know challenges aren’t all he gives me.
Of course, I’m an adult, and not all of my thoughts and behaviors necessarily match those of children. But I think my reaction to hearing that someone likes what I’ve done is substantially similar to the reactions we can expect from children – I like it, I want it to happen again, and I’ll do what I can to get it to happen again. So when we see or hear children doing things that we hope they’ll do more, let’s be sure to let them know about it.

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