Appreciation Ratios

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Appreciation Ratios

I’ve been re-reading Dale Carnegie’s 1930’s classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” because the speaker coming to my Vistage CEO group this month uses it as his trusted guide on how to deal with people and I want to get every bit out of the presentation. I’m amazed at how timeless Carnegie’s principles are. Principle #2, “Give honest and sincere appreciation” is so pure and simple.


It made me think of the research from John Gottman’s “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” that has been used in corporate work because professional relationships, it turns out, thrive for many of the same reasons as personal relationships. Gottman says that a healthy relationship has on on-going ratio of positive comments to negative ones of at least 5:1.


These two ideas intersected in a very simple but profound way for me this week. Can I ‘up my ratio’ of honest and sincere appreciation, both for others and myself without succumbing to mere flattery?


I’ll start right now: I appreciate the English teachers in high school and college who challenged me to express myself clearly through writing. I’m thrilled that I was able to travel so much with my kids as they were growing up. I deeply value the exquisite, mothering love I’ve received from so many people since my mom passed 20 years ago. I appreciate the work I get to do with leaders who are willing to uncover the inner beliefs that hold them back. I’m grateful for this life I get to live that gives me such awesome content for my writing.


I can already feel a difference in my body. Imagine what might be different in how we experience the world around us with this kind of regular practice…