If an appreciation is off-base, irrelevant or mis-attuned it probably won’t be as potent. To give a powerful appreciation requires seeing something true and specific in the other person’s world and really paying attention.
Appreciation is like water for a plant
When you really see someone and offer them regular appreciation, it helps them grow into their best self. People often fulfill our expectations of them. This means if you think someone is going to be mean, then you are more likely to relate to them in a way that actually encourages them to show up that way – a self-fulfilling prophecy. On the other hand, If you think someone is going to be powerful, wise and self aware, and you offer those reflections and appreciations, it will tend to foster their growth in that direction (especially in a power over dynamic like a coach).
Bringing this forward can be incredibly potent. For example, recently I shared with a client that I really trusted their ability to process their experience and balance their thinking mind and their feeling heart. The following week they shared that they had really softened and relaxed their relationship with THEIR WHOLE LIFE as a result because with the reflection they realized it was true for them as well. They could trust their own process and wisdom.
One of the reasons we emphasize appreciation is because it requires non-judgemental acceptance. If I’m trying to push, change, force, fix or heal something, chances are I’m not actually seeing and appreciating the value or wisdom this thing actually has to offer.
How to Share Appreciations
There are two dimensions to appreciations: Internal and External
You can think of this as your way of being. This means embodying appreciation while being with the client, it doesn’t actually require you to do anything but put on the lens of appreciation and coach from that internal place. Internal appreciation is about the way the coach chooses to view the client.
These are the words and actions that are an expression of the internal state of appreciation. Having both of these helps to create a sense of congruence and authenticity, allowing appreciations to land and inspire our clients into deeper awareness and change.
It’s helpful to practice and cultivate both even as your client is talking. You can practice sitting in a place of curiosity, open heartedness and appreciation, and learning how to look for how things may be serving your client in different ways (in order to provide safety, security, love, certainty etc).
Last but not least, appreciation is fulfilling and enjoyable. It can be applied in any area of your life, and learning and practice opportunities are everywhere.