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Increase Acknowledgment for More Ease in Your Relationships

In a program on "Power Thinking for Better Living," there was a woman named Sherry in the audience - and she was frustrated. She said she was doing a decent job of managing her life; her problem, she stated, was her husband and her teenage son. She continued, "They don't listen to me; they do not seem to notice all that I do for them, and they never help out."

At work or at home, it is easy to point the finger at other people and say that they are our problem. However, blaming others just leads to a dead end. We cannot control other people, and we will waste a lot of energy and give ourselves a lot of grief when we try.

If Sherry wanted things to be different at home, she had to find a way within her control to create change. Knowing that demanding rarely works, and that begging is too demeaning to use on a regular basis, I suggested that Sherry try acknowledging her husband and her son. Every day, she was to find one thing to acknowledge about her husband and one thing to acknowledge about her teenage son. She thought the idea was ridiculous.

I pointed out that usually she is focused on what is missing, that her current communication consisted mainly of statements such as "You never help with dinner," "You forgot to take out the trash," or "Whose socks are these on the floor?" Desperate for more harmony at home, she decided to try the experiment.

Every day, she looked for one thing for which to acknowledge her family members. At first, she said, it was hard. Soon it became easier, and soon after that, she noticed more interest in helping from her teenage son, and more closeness and connection from her spouse.

After the first week, Sherry committed to continuing this daily practice indefinitely. A few weeks later at dinner with her family, laughing and conversing, Sherry was overcome with emotion. All the members of her family were enjoying each other and sharing time together in a way they had never experienced before.

By forcing herself to focus on what was going well and acknowledging her spouse and son, Sherry began to increase her awareness of all the large and small things that were good in her relationships. She stopped having any interest in nagging, and she started to communicate with more compassion.

Appreciating the acknowledgment and noticing her shift to a more compassionate place, Sherry's spouse and son wanted to be closer to her and give her more support.

Don't confuse a compliment with an acknowledgment. Compliments are usually about someone's looks or what they are wearing; "Nice tie," "That blue shirt brings out your eyes," or "That is a beautiful dress" are all compliments. An acknowledgment focuses on someone's behavior or character. "Thank you for picking up the dry cleaning," "I appreciate you taking the time to go shopping with me," or "It means a lot to me when you help me clean up" are all acknowledgments.

When acknowledging people, be specific; do not simply tell people that they did a good job or that they are a valuable member of the team. Tell them why. A few examples of acknowledgments are: "You are always so good about setting the table before I ask," "I really value your opinion," and "Thanks for your help getting the kids off to camp; that really took a lot of creative problem-solving."

Start right now to focus on increasing your acknowledgments, both at home and throughout your life. Getting good at acknowledgment will take some time; pretty soon, though, you will find yourself acknowledging people naturally, with ease. You will find more closeness, camaraderie and fulfillment in all your relationships.

Caterina Rando, MA, MCC, is a success speaker, life coach and author of the national bestseller "Learn to Power Think." She helps people invigorate their lives and create the results they want with ease. To find out about her programs, book and other resources, visit Caterina can be reached at 800-966-3603 or by email at

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