What I’ve learned over the years of writing relationship advice and working with singles and couples is that, ultimately, we are all looking for the same thing in all of our relationships. It doesn’t matter if we’re in a business relationship, a familial relationship, or a romantic relationship. The common thread is that relationships work better when people regularly acknowledge each other.
This may sound silly, but the root of many relationship resentments and hurt feelings stem from not feeling heard, valued, or respected. Essentially, we feel incomplete or out of balance when we are not properly acknowledged.
Consider a couple I recently worked with who don’t generally listen to each other when they disagree. Like many people, they fight to win, not to understand. One person will state their opinion, and the other will interrupt to make sure their viewpoint is represented before their partner can finish their thought.
The issue is not that they are disagreeing, but that they aren’t acknowledging each other’s feelings or point of view. As a result, neither side feels respected—or that their perspective even matters. If this dynamic doesn’t change, it can erode a relationship’s foundation.
Not surprisingly, couples who regularly acknowledge their partners’ contributions to the home and family by saying “thank you” and “I appreciate you,” as well as those who acknowledge their relationships by regularly doing things that they know will make their partners happy, are generally more fulfilled. (It’s worth noting that some people are less verbal, and so their acknowledgment is usually manifested through actions, rather than words.)
In businesses, consumers, clients and co-workers also report more satisfaction when they get regular acknowledgment. The Gallup Organization has surveyed more than 4 million employees worldwide and concluded that “praise” and “recognition” are crucial elements to a company’s success. When employees get this regularly, their productivity increases.
Think about it: Who would you rather work for—a manager who acknowledges your contributions and efforts when you’ve earned the praise, or one who only speaks up when you mess up?
Oftentimes, the easiest things to do in relationships are the hardest to practice because they bring out our vulnerabilities; but the more aware we are of how powerful giving someone regular acknowledgement is, the more our relationships will thrive.