Appreciating people isn’t hard. Here’s how to do it in 3 simple steps.

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

If you’re reading this, chances are something about the title tugged on your conscience.

How many times do we go through the day ignoring the strangers that pass us by. How many times do we merely tolerate the people in our lives who aren’t strangers? I get it, people can be very difficult.

“Life would be easy if it weren’t for all the other people.”

Well said, whoever it was that said that. It’s true that dealing with people is one of the most challenging aspects of life. But, unless you have walled yourself off from all human interaction, dealing with people is a reality we must all face.

I’d like to share some simple steps that I believe will change your perspective about people — for the better. First, though, you need the key to being successful at these steps!

It’s not 50–50.

Nope. You’re going to have to go all in…100-0. All the effort must be yours. You have to go into this expecting nothing in return. You’ll just have to trust me that the reward will be there in the end.

There — now you have the key to success here. Let’s proceed.

Value the person.

Whoa, whoa, whoa — I thought this was going to be simple?! Trust me, this is where it all starts. It’s the underlying principle of honor that’s forms the foundation for true appreciation.

Honor is simply placing value on them as a person. And the only way we’ll ever be able to truly value a person is to separate the person from their behavior. There is an unending list of factors that will affect a person’s behavior, because after all, they are human. That’s the real point here, though — they are human beings.

If we can look past the behavior and value the person for who they are as a unique, one of a kind, amazing creation, then we can more easily set aside their erratic behavior and not let it affect the way we treat them. If we’re honest, this is the way we want to be treated by others, right? Sow bad seed, reap a bad harvest. Sow good seed, reap a good harvest.

Another key point here is that you don’t have to know a person to value them. Remember, they are human, therefore they have inherent value.

Honor is an amazing principle in itself, and I could not do it justice in this brief article. If you spent any amount of time outside this story studying the principle of honor, it would be time well spent.

Say thank you, and mean it.

How hard is it to say thank you, after all? It’s not hard. Meaning it? Ah, there’s the rub. How in the world do I say thank you and mean it?

Well, to be sincere in any sentiment, you have to believe in the object of that sentiment. In this case, it’s a person. See step 1 above. You have to value the person. If you truly appreciate someone, then it’s really easy to thank them for the simplest things and actually mean it. In fact, this is the key to ridding your personality repertoire of every fake smile and manufactured kind sentiment.

If you’ve never done it, I promise you will be amazed to see what happens when you offer a simple, yet intentional, “Thank you” to the barista, the door greeter, or the bus driver. Also, practice makes perfect. Just start doing it and it’ll get easier.

Show sincere gratitude.

Remember, I said simple…not easy! What’s the point here? Verbalize your gratitude for something they do or something about them you admire. This is more specific than a simple “Thank you”, and applies to a more narrow audience.

I’m talking about providing real feedback to people you know and interact with regularly. These are people like your boss, employee, coworker, professor, or significant other.

For example, I work with a guy who approaches his work with such an amazing attitude. Every. single. day.

After years of experience working with him, I have come to take this very admirable quality for granted. Honestly, it’s his consistency, even during stressful times, that is so fascinating. Anyway, I recently saw an opportunity to express my gratitude for his attitude, and I took it. I didn’t do it for me, so that he would then say in return, “Wow, Matt, you’re such a nice guy.”

No, I did it for him, because he’s an amazing person. I really am better for my time with him.

And, I’m not talking about a staged performance here. Genuine appreciation is not a performance, it comes from “the well” inside you.

If it’s in the well, it’s going to come up in the bucket.

Oh, you’re not feeling it? Perhaps you just need to stop and think about what your life would be like without that person? Again, not the negative stuff — not the behavior. The person.

Here’s the bottom line: these steps are simple, they just take a choice and a little will power. We simply must choose, as an act of our will, to do them. I fail at this miserably some (most?) days. Other days I do better. I can say with complete honestly that the days I do better, those are the days I feel better. Better about myself, better about others, and better about life in general.

I’ve seen people come alive, come out of their shells, come out from under a dark cloud, simply by offering a smile and showing them true honor and appreciation. It’s really not that hard to leave someone’s world a little better than the way we found it.