We all have a need to be appreciated, accepted and respected. Affirmation is essential for our sense of wellbeing.
According to dictionary.reference.com, affirmation is
a statement or proposition that is declared to be true.
I’m sure that we all recognise the need to affirm and encourage children. Rella Ingram on the website, parenthood360, tells us that
Children of all ages look to their parents for praise and affirmation of every aspect of their lives. It really begins when they are toddlers and ends when you take your last breath as a parent.
Laura Kuehn, writing on cornerstonesforparents.com tells us that to affirm a child is simply to
Communicate things that we know to be true about them.
Clearly, flattery is unhelpful. What is communicated has to be truth. A child’s self-esteem grows as he or she learns the truth about what he/she does well.
We all recognise the truth that criticism drains but affirmation energises. Sam Crabtree, cited on the website christianpost.com says,
We all need to correct others whether at work or in personal life, but corrections need to be overwhelmed by affirmations otherwise we risk turning people against us, which is not only un-christian but is not professionally beneficial. Corrections drain energy from relationships, and affirmations put that energy back.
Lack of affirmation is given as one of the 4 most common reasons someone has an affair. Elaine Sihera tells us that
The worst thing is to tell someone how much you value and love them, but to have nothing coming back at you in a similar fashion.
Whatever the sphere of life, giving and receiving affirmation should play an important part. Conrad Baars tells us that
Unaffirmed people are incapable of developing into emotionally mature adults until they receive authentic affirmation from another person.
We will enhance our relationships with other people, whether friends, family or work colleagues, if we learn the principle that criticism drains but affirmation energises. As Patrick O’Connor says
When it does not come (affirmation), people will not give themselves to their families, their teams, their businesses, and organisations.
I had a brilliant experience of affirmation recently. I volunteer for the wonderful charity, County Community Projects. I travel to Worcester and help at a drop-in. From time to time I put in a lot of hours because I really believe in what they are trying to do for the homeless and those with mental health problems.
My managers had wanted to nominate me for the Cheltenham Volunteer of the Year award, but although I live in Cheltenham, they weren’t allowed to nominate me because my voluntary work is in Worcester, so in order to show their appreciation, the staff (none of whom are well paid) made their own presentation to me of flowers, chocolates and wine, and a card expressing their thanks. I was overwhelmed – and affirmed. They didn’t have to do that, I love working for them, but it makes me want to work all the harder for them because it energised me.
Finally, there is a brilliant quote by Charles Schwab, the successful businessman. It is quoted on Tommyswindow.com which has a brilliant powerpoint presentation which is well worth watching. See it here. He said,
I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.