I’m often quite grateful for things and people in my life – but I’m not always good at expressing it. This time of year our thoughts turn toward gratitude. How can we more fully express our heart to those we love most?
The Problem of What to Say
Often we feel grateful, but we can’t quite articulate why. Sometimes we’re too busy to put into words what we feel. Sometimes we don’t know how to express gratitude. So we end up sending a card that says:
“Thanks for being a great friend!”
While this is better than nothing, we may feel that our words fail to communicate how we really feel. What if we sent a note like this:
“Thanks for being a great friend. The way you listen to me and speak truth lovingly into my life makes me feel special and important. I’ve grown a lot as a person because you’re in my life.”
Which card would you rather receive?
Building Meaningful Compliments
As we enter the Thanksgiving season, let’s reflect on how to communicate the impact others have had on our lives. Of course, there is more than one way to express gratitude. I learned one excellent way at a communications class I took called Our Community Listens.* This class gave me a helpful tool to think through how to give sincere, meaningful compliments with what they call Personal Recognition Messages. Here is the basic outline:
- Express the specific behavior you have observed
- State your primary feelings about their behavior
- Tell them the impact their behavior has had on you
Once you have worked through those thoughts, what’s the next step? Here are some ideas:
- Write out your thoughts and send them in a card
- Call the person and verbalize your gratitude
- Write out your thoughts and read them to the recipient, then give them your notes to keep
We all need the encouragement of hearing how our lives positively impact others. Let’s each take a few moments this week to think through the impact special people have had on us and speak truth, love, and gratitude into their lives.
*Our Community Listens is a free three day communication skills training class intended to strengthen family bonds through improved communication channels. Classes are offered in Midland, MI and Aspen, CO, as well as other locations across the nation. Check their course calendar for details.