How To Make People Appreciate You

If you have children, a spouse, parents, siblings or friends, you have undoubtedly felt unappreciated.  Perhaps you’ve experienced the following scenario:

You decide to do something nice for someone you love. You buy the perfect gift, bring home the sweetest trinket, leave the kindest note, or arrange the best family event. You plot, plan and execute. You stand back with a smile, ready to watch your loved one’s joy and gratitude.

And they say nothing.

Or perhaps they shrug their shoulders and say, “thanks, that’s nice” with less enthusiasm than they have for a well-cooked burger.

Or maybe they have the gall to complain. Whine. Gripe about the service, the size, or the long lines at the amusement park that you spent your entire savings getting into.

After all of that planning and good intention, you’re left feeling frustrated and maybe even a little resentful.  You ask yourself, “why do I even bother?”

My family doesn’t appreciate me

From time to time, I’m able to turn my work as a travel blogger into a free trip or activity for my entire family.  Pretty great, right?  And yet on more than one occasion I’ve felt as if  I have dragged them on yet another outing.  “Oh, yes,” I think, “let me apologize for making you endure a visit to this world renowned attraction. I’m so sorry!

I was in the car on the way home from just such a trip recently, silently fuming in the passenger seat, when I found myself asking, again, “why do I even bother?”

Why had I arranged this particular outing?  What was I hoping to get?

Of course, I immediately assured myself that I wasn’t trying to get anything.  I do nice things for my family because I want to do things for them, right?  And no, they don’t have to ask, because I love them and that’s what good people do when they love someone, damn it!

Then why am I annoyed when I don’t get the response I expect?  If my motives are pure, shouldn’t the simple act of doing something nice for them fill me with goodness and light, regardless of whether or not I am appreciated?


Or maybe the problem is that I’m doing things that would make me feel loved and assuming they will have the same effect on other people.

Consider your target audience

There is not one universal list of “acts that make people feel loved”.  In the popular book The 5 Love Languages, marriage counselor Gary Chapman talks about the five “languages” that we use to show each other affection:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

We each respond differently to these types of acts, and knowing which language your partner appreciates most is an important part of creating a relationship in which both people feel loved and appreciated.

While I learned this concept in marriage counseling, I just recently noticed how it relates to my relationship with my children.  And my friends.  And pretty much everyone else in my life.

There are countless ways to show love, and each of us responds to those acts – those “love languages” uniquely.  Chances are the way you want to be loved is how you show love, although it may not be what the people in your life want or need most.

For example, I love to travel.  I love doing new things. The most loving thing anyone could do for me is take me on a trip.  But maybe my five year old would rather I walk her down to the park.  Perhaps my son would really love it if I played the Wii with him for a few hours.  I’m almost certain that my husband would rather have morning sex than take another trip to Disney World.

Really, why bother?

I’m practicing asking myself this question more frequently and sincerely.

Am I taking my family to SeaWorld for the afternoon because I want to spend time with them, or because I want to do something nice for them?  If it’s for me, then I can admit that we’re going because it’s important to me and ask them to be generally nice and well-behaved; that dramatically lowers my expectations for praise and thanks.

But if I want to do something nice for them simply because I do, in fact, enjoy loving up on my loved ones, then I need to make sure I’m speaking their language.  When I want to do something that they will appreciate - aka enjoy - it’s a good idea to ask what they would appreciate and do that.

The good news is, I think I’m going to save a fortune on travel expenses and theme park lunches.

Do you ever feel like your family doesn’t appreciate you?  Are you speaking different languages?

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  1. Love it! It feels sychronistic somehow, I’ve been following your blog for about two years now and you’ve been a huge inspiration – yes, your day to day life and struggles have been inspiring because life doesn’t necessarily have a plot, a beginning, middle and ending, it’s a journey, and I’ve enjoyed following yours (I also blog about personal growth). I’m so looking forward to continuing the journey with you.

    • Miss Britt says:

      Thank you. :-) As friend told me this morning, my blog hasn’t been “entertaining” for about a year. lol It’s definitely been moving in this direction.

  2. Allison says:

    When I read the title of this post, “How Can You Make Your Family Appreciate You?” my initial thought before even reading anything was “do something they appreciate?”

    I think that’s exactly what they’re saying here – and you’re so right. It’s really hard sometimes to think outside of ourselves, to realize that the things we like/want/appreciate are not the same things other people do! I feel unappreciated ALL THE TIME when I do things for my roommate, but it isn’t because he doesn’t care. It’s because the things I do are things that I appreciate, that he doesn’t really care about at all.

    Thanks for the reminder to stop expecting appreciation when I’m catering to myself more than I’m catering to the other person, even if I do something nice. It’s like the husband who buys his wife a chainsaw for her birthday and doesn’t understand why she’s not excited like he thought she would be!

    • Miss Britt says:

      It’s EXACTLY like that husband. It’s funny because we all hear that example and laugh, but I think we often don’t see how many times we are that husband in our own relationships.

  3. the muskrat says:

    I think Deb feels like this. It’s yet another item on my list of things to improve in 2011. I think words are silly and resist using them, as I feel like they’re scripted/contrived/lame. But, that appears to be her love language. Mine’s acts of service, so she made lots of cookies last holiday season, which is why I gained a bunch of weight. See how nobody wins?

    • Miss Britt says:

      The good news is, I think most people speak more than one “language”, so you might be able to talk about other ones you’re more fluent in while you bone up on the words part.



  4. Avitable says:

    You’re right. Even for something as simple as giving a gift, it’s important to buy something that the other person wants, not something that you want them to have because you’d enjoy it. It can get difficult sometimes to try to know and understand what each person in your life values or enjoys to such a level, but it’s worth it when you succeed.

  5. you love to give travel and i love to be touched…gonna be a wild weekend in orlando coming up!

    • Miss Britt says:

      Especially because Jared loves to touch.

      In all seriousness though – I think part of the reason the two of you get along so well is because you both naturally “speak” the same languages.

      • Do you think our Cancer birth signs factor in to how well Jared & I get along? Several years apart, but there might be something to be said for July 4th and 5th babies…wonder if most Cancers speak the same language.

  6. Ha.. You hit the nail on the head with this one. I have had many thoughts like this on MOST of our trips. Yet, I still do it. I think that’s a great question to ponder on whether we do it for them or for ourselves. I admit that a major part of it, I’m doing it for me. I hope to provide my kids with experience that will help open their mind and world view. So yes, in the end, it’s for me. :)

    • Miss Britt says:

      I’m so glad it’s not just me – and not just my family!!!

      I’m going to keep taking them places (obviously – moving into an RV and all), but at least I’ll have more realistic expectations AND I can probably tell them what I expect from them more honestly now, too.

  7. Megan says:

    Yet another scenario in which good communication is very helpful. Also knowing the right questions to ask.

    I have a date tonight with a handsome man; I think I feel a dinner topic coming on… :)

    • Miss Britt says:

      I actually made a note when I was writing this post to write about the power of asking direct questions. I don’t know why it’s so hard when the result is almost always so freaking simple.

      • pocket_queen says:

        Yes, please do! I so badly keep needing a reminder of this! Because men and women really do speak different languages when it comes to informations seeking/obtaining techniques!

  8. Lisa says:

    This is so true, and I fall into this trap all the time. My husband is so much better at making me feel appreciated than I am for him.

    • Miss Britt says:

      You’re lucky. Jared and I both sucked at it! (Although I think he’s picked up on it now more quickly than I have, but I think that’s because he’s naturally a more giving/supportive type of person.)

  9. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Miss Britt and Allison Boyer, allisonsreading. allisonsreading said: Miss Britt: How To Make People Appreciate You [...]

  10. Mandi Bone says:

    I feel like I must give my children the experiences that I never had as a child. So I plan these elaborate days of activities. I always end up frustrated and my feelings get hurt that nobody noticed what I did for them.

    • Miss Britt says:

      I think most of us parent in response to our childhoods.

      My mom spent most of my childhood trying to recreate the perfect family life that she never had.

      I try to make sure my kids have lots of THINGS because we were poor.

  11. Poppy says:

    I lived an entire life of feeling my family (my ex) didn’t appreciate me. We just weren’t compatible in life, though. No matter what I did to please it was either wrong or taken for granted.

    Thankfully that is my past, and the family I have now (you don’t need me to tell you who) appreciates my gestures. Now I make peanut butter sandwiches for his workday and I get a heartfelt thank you.

    But we’re only 3 years in. Maybe in another 3 or 6 or 9 I’ll be annoyed with the lack of appreciation. :)

    I firmly believe that it is VERY difficult for parents to feel appreciated by their children until the children are grown and understands just how hard the real world without parents taking care of them really is. They’ll appreciate you very much one day. :)

    • Miss Britt says:

      There are definitely things parents do that children can’t appreciate until they become adults. But I think most parents – even most adults – expect that.

      But Jared, for example, isn’t just a naturally ungrateful person. His values when it comes to acts of love are just lined up a little differently than mine.

      If the people in your life have the exact same values as you (in terms of acts of love), that definitely makes things easier. But if they don’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean the relationships are doomed, either.

  12. carol anne says:

    Oh my gosh. I’m not a parent but I totally understand. I threw a big party for Mother’s Day at our local farm rather than stuff everyone in my little house again and no one wanted to come because they didn’t like the venue. I was blown away and so hurt that family members refused to come because the party was outdoors.

    Assuming what will make people happy will get you every time.

  13. My husband and I are most definitely different love languages. Reading that book helped A TON. (capitalize letter-worthy “a ton”) GREAT post. :)

  14. Faiqa says:

    Excellent first post… and right on the money.

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