- Give someone your full attention. Stop whatever you’re doing (even just for a few seconds) and focus your attention on the giver. If you’re too busy to stop what you’re doing, say so. Example: “I’d really like to give you my full attention but I can’t do that right now. Can we do this in a few minutes, (later, tomorrow, etc) so I can give you the attention you deserve?” The giver will feel honored and will usually agree to a mutually agreeable future time to present their gift. [EXPERT]
- Comment on the specifics of the gift or act of giving. When writing a thank-you note or thanking someone verbally, be as specific as you can about their action AND it’s positive impact on you. It takes a bit more thought (or memory) and yet means so much more than a plain, generic, “Thank-you.” [EXPERT]
- If you’re uncomfortable receiving something, turn the attention back to the giver. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings because we have trouble receiving. If receiving something triggers some discomfort within us, we can still receive graciously if we turn our attention back to the giver by complimenting him or her for their kindness, creativity, investment of time and/or energy, etc. This will take the attention off of us and make the giver feel even more honored. Example: “Your gift is so unexpected. How nice of you to think of me. You sure caught me off guard. You’re very kind. Thank-you.” [EXPERT]
- Make a point to look someone in the eyes when saying “Thanks.” In this busy time, as we rush around, taking a moment to really look at someone when we say “Thanks” gives the giver that moment of honoring I mentioned earlier. It tells them, with our action, that we acknowledge them. It shows them they matter and that they’re not invisible, taken for granted or ignored. This is particularly effective with children and strangers. It only takes a moment but the impact is lasting and positive. [EXPERT]
- Better later than never. It’s never too late to thank someone or honor a giver for something nice that they’ve done for us. Example: “Hi, I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated what you did for me last week (last month, last year., etc.). I was in such a dizzy when you stopped by (called, wrote, etc.) that I didn’t realize I hadn’t thanked you properly. You were very kind and I just want to make sure you know I’m grateful.” [EXPERT]
Happily, most receiving blunders can be repaired. If you realize that you’ve overlooked or missed a chance to appreciate someone’s act of giving, there may be some hurt or angry feelings. Silently hoping their upset feelings will go away is denial and avoidance rationalization. It’s also a fear choice. See my article about making choices with fear or courage. People have long memories when it comes to being unappreciated. So, if the relationship is important to you. Here’s an effective and light-hearted way to approach this person in order to acknowledge your oversight and apologize, non-defensively. [EXPERT]
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