6 Tips for Perfect Praise This Mother's Day

Before you buy a Mother’s Day card, learn how to really connect with your mother this year. From communications expert Mary Marcdante's book, My Mother, My Friend, here are six tips that could make this your best Mother’s Day ever.

Six Tips for Perfect Praise

One of the most meaningful and least expensive ways to appreciate your mother is simply to tell her what you value about her. Give her a compliment. Here are six tips to help you acknowledge your mother more easily:

1.Catch her in the act of being herself at her best, doing something good, honorable, kind or helpful. Research done by Blanchard Training and Development has shown that we need twelve positive comments to overcome one negative. Dr. John Gottman, coauthor with Nan Silver of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, found in his research that the common denominator in successful marriages is five positive gestures or statements for every one criticism. The bottom line is that everyone needs positive feedback. Check in with yourself. How often do you acknowledge your mother? Make a list of ten of her strengths, talents and skills. Write them down on a card, and read them to her. Tell her that the rules are that there is no playing down or denying that what you say is true and that if she can't think of anything to say, "Thank you" is enough.

The Power of Positive Words

2.Be specific in what you're praising. Instead of saying, "Thanks for calling, Mom," say, "Thanks Mom, for asking how my meeting went. You always remember the details of my life. I feel so loved by you."

Celebrating Mother's Day Every Day

3.Use positive words. When Peggy Noonan was writing speeches for President Ronald Reagan, she changed his words from "I'll never forget you" to "I'll always remember you." It may seem like a small detail, but changing your language from negative to positive can make a difference in your level of energy and how people respond to you. Our energy decreases when we use negative words and increases when we hear and say positive words.

4.Be immediate with your praise. People don't change without a sense of urgency. If you want to change your thoughts about your mother from criticism to appreciation, you'll want to acknowledge her positive actions as quickly as possible. Do this for yourself, too. Give yourself praise throughout the day, and you'll be less dependent on your mother's praise to validate you.

5.Be sincere. Remember the time you flattered someone because your intent was to make her feel better rather than to acknowledge honestly something positive you noticed. It is essential to tell the truth. Rather than flatter or patronize your mother, acknowledge that she seems a little down and ask, "What can I do to help?"

6.Be personal. Acknowledge how you feel about what your mother did for you. Positive feelings such as happiness, satisfaction, gratitude, pride, pleasure, relaxation, relief, joy, confidence, and competence motivate us to be better. "Thank you so much for offering to drive me to the doctor. I've been scared about this appointment, and having you there will help keep me calm."

More than 150 million greeting cards are exchanged every Mother's Day. It's the number one gift given to mothers, followed by flowers, plants, clothing, jewelry. All the major long-distance companies say Mother's Day is their busiest day of the year. They log 130 million calls compared to a normal Sunday of 90 million. When the U.S. Postal Service did a poll last year, 62 percent of the survey group said they normally visit their mom on Mother's Day.

Think about all the different ways you've appreciated your mother over the years. What kind of gifts have you given her? Preprinted cards? Flowers? Candy? Jewelry? Clothing? I'm sure your mother enjoyed them, but have you ever wondered what she'd buy herself under the same circumstances? In a recent national retailers' poll of mothers, 49 percent of mothers expected flowers; 13 percent said they wanted them. It's presence, not presents, that counts. All of the mothers I interviewed said the flowers and candy and other material gifts were nice, but the gift of spending time with them had the most lasting memory. There were four types of appreciation mothers said they wanted most:

  • Time
  • Kindness in words and actions
  • Captured memories
  • Services that improve the quality of her life

Read more about Mary

Reprinted with permission from Simon & Schuster. My Mother, My Friend: The Ten Most Important Things to Talk about with Your Mother, Fireside Books/Simon & Schuster Trade Paperbacks, April 2001.

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