Sharing Character Appreciation – A Key to Transforming Relationships

By Susanne M. Alexander, Character YAQologist

“Respect is interacting with all people and what they value with fair treatment, dignity, consideration, and esteem; recognizing the best knowledge, skills, talents, and abilities of others.” CharacterYAQ Definition

You can express love and respect toward your special one’s heart and soul by including what specifically you appreciate about them and what they do.

To start, carefully observe what’s happening, and look for specific positive actions that you appreciate or admire. Perhaps she remembered to put a tool back after using it. Maybe he washed her car without being asked or reminded. He helped her father with a building project. She took his mother shopping. He helped a child with homework. She got a great promotion at work after completing a project. Whatever you observe, make sure that you are sincere in applauding the action.

Next, link the action to a quality of character. This takes more skill.  Some excellent qualities to consider connecting to actions are:

  • Compassion

  • Creativity

  • Dependability

  • Excellence

  • Flexibility

  • Friendliness

  • Joyfulness

  • Justice

  • Moderation

  • Orderliness

  • Perseverance

  • Purposefulness

  • Respect

  • Service

  • Unity

When you use qualities like these in an acknowledgement, it spreads light into the recipient’s heart, encourages them to be aware of and keep practicing the quality, and creates a positive bond of appreciation, love, and respect between you.

Here are some examples using the above list:

  • “You were very compassionate with your friend Justin today when he shared he was diagnosed with cancer. I appreciate what a compassionate friend you are to people.”

  • “Your purposefulness in asking your manager for a raise today was totally awesome. I love that you are so confident in your abilities that you could approach her with your request.”

  • “Thank you so much for helping me out with cleaning up this mess. I was feeling overwhelmed, and your orderliness made all the difference.”

This practice is called using Character Quality Language. Remember to observe, be sincere, include at least one character quality, and be specific about the actions involved.

Now step back and think about the effect you can have on your children when being consistent with a practice like this. As parents, we have a primary responsibility to rear our children to have good characters. We can influence the development of their qualities by modeling good character to them, by encouraging them to practice character qualities, and by using Character Quality Language with them when we observe their successful behavior.

I recently noticed a woman in a store repeatedly and impatiently scolding her children for acting out and telling them to “Just wait a minute!”. She then commented to the clerk that “Children these days have no patience.”  Then she took them for ice cream to compensate for making them wait while she did the transaction. Unfortunately, this dynamic is quite common.

From the time children are very small, parents can say to them, “Please be patient” or “I need you to practice patience for a few minutes”.  This reminds the parent and the child both to use their best behavior. When the child is successful, the parent can say, “Thank you for being patient while I put dinner on to cook.” Affirmation can be one of the biggest encouragers of good behavior, especially in children.

Character Quality Language makes all our interactions more gentle, thoughtful, connecting, respectful, and kind. We can close an email with “Thank you for your flexibility” or “I appreciate how dependable you are”. We can send a text message that says, “Great perseverance!”. We are more attentive to what the people around us are doing. It helps us strengthen and unify our relationships when we express sincere appreciation.

Character Yaq