I have noticed over the years that there are times when I want to say, “thank you” to someone, I think of praising them, and of course maybe be able to take in the praise that they might offer me, and I just don’t do it.
I work with clients on this topic all the time, including husbands, wives, employees, and there I was, not doing it myself, not saying thank you, so I asked myself why? I really have felt embarrassed about this thing, but I know that I am not the only one who lives with this. So I ask myself, “What is up with this”?
I am lucky to be a life coach and have a forum to write and so while I work with a variety of people facing troubles of all kinds, I have the opportunity to think out loud about what I see. We are mentally healthy people who from time to time, just get stuck on one thing or another. Sometimes it comes down to something as simple as their father or mother dies without ever saying that they were proud of them. But then, over time, they hear from all their friends and family that their mom or dad literally told everyone that they were proud of him or her. They never told their kid; they didn’t realize that their kid needed to hear it. Can you feel it? They never knew to offer it…and they were never asked.
So here is my question: Why don’t we, you and me, ask for the things we need? I had a client, married for 35 years, who just ached to hear his wife say, “Thank you for making it possible for me to stay home with the kids…thank you.” It was what she’d asked for, and he had worked his entire career to make it happen for her. But he wouldn’t ask. Until we met, he never heard “thank you.”
I have another client who is very good at just this kind of thing. She goes to dinner once a week with her husband… alone… and tells him “I’d really like you to thank me for all the things I do around the house and with the kids.” And you know what? He does. And yes, his praise is genuine. It isn’t always about the kids, but it is always something that she believes is praiseworthy. And this is really important. It has to be genuine praise or it’s a waste of breath. But she takes responsibility for asking in the first place. She asks for what she needs. His praise is indeed genuine.
I have another client. He is one of my oldest, and he literally thanks his kids for doing their chores around the house, or helping their mom. He says, “Why wouldn’t I thank them for doing that even though it is what they get an allowance for doing?” He goes on… “They did the right thing!”
So the question comes to mind; why was I blocking it? Why can my wife say in a restaurant that she likes her salmon medium rare? Or you say that you need size 44 pants, but so few of are willing to say it. Would you praise me this way?
Here, I think, is one of the big reasons. It is because when you do that, when you ask that question, you are giving the other person serious information about yourself. You are pointing out where you are insecure. You are saying exactly where you need help. When you fail to do that, you treat those people, your inner circle, your most intimate associates and family, like the enemy. They don’t even know and sometimes you don’t either.
You do it that way because somewhere inside you fear what they might do with the information. Here are the things which could happen if you take the risk of providing information to others:
- They could neglect you
- They could abuse you with it
- They could actually meet your need
Long ago, I had a sports car and it had those coveted chrome wire wheels. Now my friend’s father had a beautiful Jaguar with the same, but much larger, wire wheels. One day I was at their house and he was out there with this kind of a stand and a metering device “truing up the wire wheels.” That is where you check each wire spoke for tension and it aligns the wheel perfectly with the hub. When you do that the car rides marvelously. He offered to help me do the same thing to mine and promised that I would not even recognize the ride when we finished.
I helped him finish his car, and we did mine, and when we finished, all the warps that I never even knew were there, were gone. The wheels were back to factory specifications again, and all the little warps were gone. I had had that little Triumph for three years, rebuilt the motor, replaced the transmission, and never had it ridden like it did that day. It was fabulous. It rode like a new car.
So I want to offer a challenge to you. I want you to go home and “true up” your wheels, and be honest about the praise you want to hear. What do you need to hear? Go home to your partner, ask them what do they need to hear, what do they need? What does your wife need? What does your husband need? What do your elderly parents need?
Go home and ask those questions, and then go about helping those important people get what they need. It’s that simple.
And why should you care?
How would you like to have a world that isn’t embroiled in mortal combat? Can you imagine a world with different cultures, different languages, that asked that simple kind of question? Give it some thought as you go through your day. I think that everything is personal and it starts with one person at a time… one couple at a time… one family at a time…all under the same roof. Every day.
First make it right in your own backyard and then look across that fence at your neighbor and see where it goes from there. Let it spread like the very best kind of communicable disease. Watch it spread in your community. Be one of the people who starts it going.
To start it off, I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to read this and anything else I have ever written. I want to thank all of you for being great moms… great husbands… friends… daughters…and sons.
Maybe no one has ever said that to you before, and if that is the case, let me be the first to let you know that you have done a really fabulous job…a really, really good job. Thank you for just showing up because as you all know, just showing up is more than half the battle.
Let me know how saying thank you works in your life. Send me a note or give me a call and lets start a conversation
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