One of the key insights that I gained by attending the Dale Carnegie "High Impact Presentation Skills" training program was about the difficulty of appreciating self and others. As human beings, criticism comes most naturally to us. In fact, we often tend to criticize ourselves more often than we criticize others. What qualifies as a good feedback is one with a balance of appreciation and suggestions on how certain aspects/areas could be improved further.
During feedback sessions, identifying areas of improvement came easily to me while I had to think hard about reasons to appreciate. Moreover, it is not simply about appreciating. It is about appreciating genuinely and supporting it with valid facts. It is a lot easier to be generic and superficial while appreciating someone. Therefore, we need to keep the following points when appreciating someone:
1. Being genuine - Don't try to fake appreciation as it can be easily detected by the other person. Therefore, it does not acheive the desired effect.
2. Instead of mentioning superficial reasons for appreciating an attribute, it makes better sense when we explain the implicit meaning or relevance that the attribute has for you. For e.g. during a presentation, if you want to appreciate the presenter for highlighting a benefit (among ten others) of adopting a new process or method (that was most relevant to you), you could say something like "Thanks for mentioning these points. I was particularly concerned about benefit (for e.g. no. 4) for which you have provided convincing reasons. I highly appreciate it".
3. Timing - Don't wait for a 'right' time to appreciate someone. The more spontaneous and immediate it is, the more convincing it becomes.
4. Being very specific and validating this with facts/data makes the appreciation further valuable.
Though most of us might be aware of the value of appreciation and its positive impact on our relationships, we seldom remember to appreciate our colleagues, friends and family members. Moreover, it is very rare that we appreciate ourselves on a daily basis. While being critical about ourselves helps stay grounded and focused on goals, it is equally important for us to indulge in a bit of self-appreciation everyday to keep ourselves charged up. Apart from appreciating ourselves for doing the 'right' things, appreciating ourselves for not giving up during tough times or failures can also make a difference to bring success in our lives.
So, everyday, think of one reason to appreciate yourself and also make sure you appreciate one friend or colleague or family member who needs a much deserved praise.