Thursday, 22 September 2011

What Gets Rewarded Gets Repeated

When someone says, ”thank you”, I really appreciate it. Frankly I’m delighted when I am affirmed in any way. In fact I’m so shallow that I am pleased when I allow a fellow driver a courtesy of the road and he/she gives me a wave and displeased when they don’t. Okay now that we have established that I’m a self-centered people pleaser, i.e. I please people because I want them to like me, I still contend that most people want to be affirmed, thanked or encouraged.

So what is your point – do you want me to thank you for writing this blog? Well yes, but that is not my point. Too often we take one another for granted. We assume our partner will cut the grass, or wash the dishes, or take out the garbage or make the meals, or help the kids with their homework, or shovel the snow, or do the laundry, etc. Many of these jobs are thankless. Who in their right mind likes to vacuum – sorry if I offended you. Often you can’t see the difference anyway and the carpet is only going to get dirty again.

The point is be lavish with your praise, be quick to show appreciation, find something new every day on which to compliment your partner, say thank you a lot. It is basic psychology that what we reward gets repeated. It doesn’t take long for the dog to learn that every time he rolls over, sits up or fetches whatever you throw you give him a treat.

It doesn’t take a husband long to learn that when his wife says “ I so appreciated that walk we took together last night and thank you for listening to me” that it might be something he would want to do again. Granted he won’t learn it as fast as the dog learns to do tricks to get a treat but don’t let that stop you. Or if the husband were to say, “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the time you spend helping our kids do their homework. You are a great mom.” That comment will probably carry her for a year.

Sincere praise, thank you, or words of affirmation and appreciation, are foundational to a good marriage. John Gottman, renowned clinician on the subject of marriage, says that for a marriage to remain healthy it requires five positive interactions for every negative.

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