Use appreciation to open the door to better relationships

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Walking into a meeting can be anxiety provoking.  We have no idea how the people are going to respond or react to us.  Our minds might start running through everything we have done to prepare, worrying that we did not do enough.  

We might start fearing the worst, before the meeting even starts.  The good news is that we can change our experience at any meeting by practicing appreciation.

In my classroom, we end each day with appreciation.  Each member of the class, as well as the staff, has an opportunity to share what they appreciated most about the day. 

Appreciation is related to the word appraise, which means to set the price or value of something.  It also means to increase in value.  Thus, by appreciating the good that we have experienced, we are increasing the value that it holds for us in our lives.  That which we value, we tend to seek more of.  This creates a positive chain reaction which leads to finding even more to appreciate.

When entering meetings related to my students, I have found that by switching from a perspective of defending myself to an attitude of appreciating myself and everyone else involved, I help bring out the best I have to offer.  

This also helps me remain flexible and responsive to other team members.  In the past, there have been many meetings in which I chose to ignore warnings about a certain parent or educator, and instead focused on appreciating them.  

As a result of this open-minded and open-hearted approach, I was able to form an alliance and work together with them to create the best possible program for my student.  

On one occasion, a parent was said to be upset about an ongoing disagreement with the school district.  As the current teacher, I was warned that this parent would bring a lawyer and likely target me.  

Leading up the meeting, I took the time to shift my mind out of the fear of what was going to happen and onto appreciating what the parent was expressing and how much she cared for her child.  

When we met, before I said very many words, she treated me like family.  I believe that this happened because I did not come prepared for war, instead I was prepared for the collaboration that ensued.

Perhaps you are struggling with some part of your life that feels hard or unfair.  As much as you may not want to, switching from despair and self-pity to appreciation will go a long way in transforming your situation for the better.  

If you are willing to set aside some time to reflect and make a list of all the good that is present, as well as the good that might come out of the situation, your feeling of powerlessness and resentment will give way to relief.  

This relief will open you up to start receiving and appreciating the good you deserve.

Edward Biagiotti is an Education Specialist for Culver City Unified School District.  He is also the co-host of “Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed” podcast on iTunes.  For questions, comments, and ideas for future columns, send an email to EdwardBiagiotti@ccusd.org