Lack of appreciation can cause damage, but how much thank you-ing is enough?
1. See the positive, don’t search for negative motives
Giving isn’t always generous, there may be a motive. Some people give out of guilt, others may be trying to buy a person’s favour. Often it’s genuine; borne of concern for others, or trying to ease a person’s burden at that time. Even if you believe a person’s motives are not entirely altruistic, it’s best to focus on the positive. Decide what you’re prepared to take, make it clear you appreciate the assistance. Think about how you can return the favour.
2. No-strings giving is what really counts
If you’re the giver, but constantly seek feedback, then become more self-aware. Sure, you may have stepped in during an emergency, but if you’re failing to take into account another person’s dignity and possibly fraught state of mind, then you’re not allowing them sufficient space to express appreciation in their own way and time. Even if they’re not as fulsome as you’d like, forget it and get back to your other pursuits. There may come a time when you’re experiencing vulnerability, and you won’t be too keen to show it – have empathy for that feeling of wanting to minimise focus on misfortune.
3. Playing victim has to cease
Often friends and family get into victim-saviour co-dependency. This dynamic is not good. One party is committed to being a full-time victim, while the other (out of anxiety and guilt) constantly bails the victim out of trouble – be it financial or emotional. Friends and colleagues remonstrate with the giver, to no avail. The one lesson that can be drawn is to ask whether the victim (perhaps it’s you?) has boxed him/herself into siege mode. This happens when life is pounding you badly. Your suffering is evident, you take whatever’s offered and continue to do so (rationalising that you’re experiencing a deep dose of hell). Friends and caring types will recognise your suffering, but you cannot expect to draw on their good nature indefinitely, anymore than banks will keep allowing you credit. At some point, you’ve got to
- demonstrate appreciation for help and support;
- open your eyes to how you can transform your status quo; and
- take responsibility an make changes.
4. Beware of false pride
False pride causes some people to be haughty; the usual outcome is that such people end up isolated, simply because even the most generous among us will tire of being shut out, of not having open and honest communication or of being subject to a nose-in-the-air stance. This leads to a shut down – people stop trying to reach out.
5. Be sincere, responsive and succinct
Accept a person’s generosity with grace, let them know that they’ve really helped, and see how you can return favours. You may be unable to repay your benefactor, but you can show appreciation in thoughtful small ways. Even the least emotionally needy like to be acknowledged.
Think about when a car driver gives way, and you put up your hand to signal thanks. In an instant, there is civility and the transaction satisfies both parties. You know it, the other person knows it and the traffic flows the way it should.