Jeffosophy: a collection of possibly useful things I have learned over the years.



Angelic Appreciation - a painting by Jeffrey Baumgartner 

The Power of Thank Yous

Share your thank yous with wild abandon. Thanking someone shows appreciation, gratitude and - importantly - validates their words or actions. Give a thank you whenever someone does something for you, when someone compliments you and even when someone criticises you. Yes, even when someone criticises you.


Thanking Criticism

If your sweetheart complains that you do not do your fair share of the housework, don't immediately refute her accusation, instead say, "thank you for sharing your concerns with me." In doing this, you change a potential argument into a discussion. Moreover, you validate your partner's concern, which is really important. You are telling her that you acknowledge her concern, you appreciate it and you take it seriously in ways that, "that's not true! I do way more housework than you do!" never does.

Moreover, by validating your partner's concern, she is far more likely to take your counter-argument or promise (to do better in the future) more seriously.

You can do the same thing if are criticised by a friend, family member, colleague or even superior at work. And the result will be the same: you ward off a potential argument and validate the critic's argument.

Believe it or not, critics tend to appreciate validation of their arguments more than agreement - which does not necessarily validate a criticism. Think about it. If you criticise your partner and she replies "yes, of course, dear" without actually acknowledging anything you've said, how are you likely to feel? You may doubt that she even paid attention to your criticism as her reply failed to acknowledge and validate your criticism.



A lot of people are uncomfortable with compliments. Upon receiving kind words; they'll disagree or diminish the compliment.

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Complimenter: "This is a delicious salmon dish you've made!"

You: "It's terrible. I overcooked it and put too much mustard in the sauce."

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Complimenter, looking at a painting you've done: "You are such a talented artist!"

You: "Oh no, my work is terrible."

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Both of your responses above are actually unkind to the complimenter, because they fail to validate her opinion. Indeed, you sort of put her in a position of having to defend her compliment to you ("No, really, this is the best salmon I've ever had in my entire life!") or to agree, thus invalidating the compliment ("Yeah, I guess you're right").

A far better response to someone else is a simple "thank you" or "Thank you, I'm glad you like it." It validates the other person's compliment, shows appreciation of the compliment and makes you seem more confident.

"More confident?" I hear you ask. Yes. Accepting a compliment with a simple "thank you" shows confidence in yourself.


In Place of Apologies

If you are the kind of person who apologises a lot, try to replace some of those apologies with thank yous. For example, rather than saying: "Sorry I'm late," say: "Thank you for waiting."

Instead of saying, "I've been complaining about work all evening. Sorry to be so boring!" say, "Thank you for being such a great friend and listening to me moan about work for so long." Which of the two would you prefer to hear from a friend who has had a bad day?

Thanking someone, rather than apologising, does two things. Firstly, it makes you seem more confident. People who say "sorry" a lot often seem insecure. More importantly, it changes the focus from your flawed action to appreciation of the other person's positive action. So, it makes the other person feel better and more valued than she would feel if you simply apologised. As a result, your action also seems less flawed.

This is not to say that you should never apologise. Indeed, not all apologies can be easily converted into thank yous. "Oops, I'm sorry I've just spilled my red wine on your white shirt!" cannot appropriately be replaced with "thank you for letting me pour my red wine down your white shirt." If your actions hurt someone physically or emotionally, an apology is in order. However, you can sometimes tag a thank you to the end of your apology: "thank you for your patience."


General Gratitude

Lastly, of course, hand out thank yous generously during day to day activities. If someone does something for you, even if it part of her job, say "thank you." For instance, when a waitress serves your meal, say "thank you." Of course it is her job to do this, nevertheless your thank-you is nonetheless polite and appreciated. If someone holds open a door for you, don't worry about the sexual politics. Just say "thank you."

Your widespread thank yous will be loved by recipients who feel validated and appreciated. Moreover, they will be more inclined to help you in the future because they know you will validate, respect and appreciate that help.


Making Your World a Better Place

If you fail to thank people for anything; if you do not show gratitude and feel no appreciation for the kindness of others, the world can seem like a cold, cruel and heartless place.

On the other hand, if you spread your thank yous far and wide, you will find something else happens: your world becomes a better place. By thanking people who do things for you, who compliment you and even those who criticise you, you cannot help but to appreciate the kindness of people and the importance of kind actions to making this world an ever better place.


Thank you for reading this article!





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