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Karen Maleck-Whiteley: Two, four, six, eight, who do you appreciate?

Posted: June 4, 2009 10:20 p.m.
Updated: June 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.
"Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate?" That phrase popped into my mind this last weekend as I stood looking into the eyes of someone I didn't know well, while we held hands and expressed how much we appreciated knowing each other.

This wonderful exchange occurred at training meeting for the leadership group of a service club of which I am a member. A dear friend had asked me to do a short "teambuilding" exercise for the meeting, and it took some thought before I chose this experience.

As with all such groups, this leadership bunch is comprised of many dynamic women who care immensely about each other and the club, while sometimes having very diverse opinions about decisions and direction.

You know how it is; put any group of two to 200 together for any cause and you'll get a spectrum of feelings, interpretations and behavior.

I wanted us to do something that would benefit us as individuals and as a group, and I knew that many of the participants had done lots of teambuilding and other exercises in their professional lives. I also had to try to fit it into 15 minutes.

As I was considering what to do, I noticed that the feeling I was walking around with last was one of not being appreciated. OK, I'll admit I was feeling put upon and pretty over it.

People I see in my hypnotherapy practice often share that they experience this feeling as parents, as children, as caregivers, as employees, as volunteers, as friends and as spouses. We sometimes feel we do so much for others or give so much in our jobs and other commitments.

Often we find ourselves feeling un-thanked, under-valued, and even angry and resentful of a situation or particular people.

I then recalled that when I was in corporate management, I read about a study that had been conducted asking employees across a large variety of organizations about the individual feedback they received about their job performance.

The most common experience reported was that of receiving no individual feedback at all.

The second most common type of feedback received was negative.

Positive feedback came in a distant third. Even when we highly value people around us, it seems it is human to forget to let them know.

The study found that when bosses actually gave individual feedback of any kind, productivity improved and of course when regular genuine positive feedback was given, productivity and worker satisfaction improved the most.

It only makes sense. I decided then that acknowledging how much we appreciated each other was what our group needed. It's something we can all use pretty much any time.

Here's what we did and how you can use it. Try it with someone every day this week, and see how much better you feel, and how your relationships shift towards a more positive place.

The main thought: For whatever reason, we are fated, lucky enough or privileged enough to have been put together with the people currently in our lives. Maybe we are meant to know them for a long time, for only a few moments, for a specific task, to learn or hear or see something, or to make something occur in the world.

We don't always know why someone is in our lives, but we can appreciate them for what they bring and who they are. Even if we don't really know someone, or are having our differences with someone, we can appreciate some part of the person they are and what we are learning from knowing them. We can appreciate life and that we among all of the species have been given the ability to notice and appreciate each other, and communicate that we do.

What we did: We stood in a circle and held hands as I talked about the main thought. Then each of us went around the circle on the inside, faced each person one at a time, held her hands, looked into her eyes, and said: "I appreciate who you are."

The second person in the pair then said the same thing back. This was the entire instruction.

What happened was wonderful. I don't think anyone said only the basic sentence. Instead we took the opportunity to say from our hearts what it is about the person that we appreciate. Many people were moved to tears, and many hugs were exchanged. It was an amazing experience, in a very short time.

What you can do: Answer the title question: "Two, four, six, eight, who do you appreciate?" It's not complicated, and it doesn't take much time. The notion is that you can find something to appreciate in nearly everyone you know, even the difficult ones.

Now pick a couple of people to tell each day, and ask them to tell you what they appreciate about you. If it is appropriate, do what we did: hold hands and look into each other's eyes. Really take a moment to be with the person. If that's not appropriate, you can still take a few moments to say that you appreciate knowing each other.

You can do it in a group, you can do it over the phone. Try it at dinner with your family, or at your next staff meeting.

I'd like to tell you I appreciate you subscribing to this newspaper or looking this article up online. I appreciate you for reading all the way to the end and I hope expressing appreciation helps you to live well and stress less today.

Karen Maleck-Whiteley is a certified hypnotherapist, coach, speaker and author. She is also the co-owner of Balance Point Spa in Canyon Country where people go every day to reduce their stress and feel appreciated. If you would like more information on how to do an exercise like this for your group or to have her design one for you, contact her at (661) 252-0650 or send an e-mail to Find out more by visiting,,, or Five4Me/ (free podcasts).


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