A Coaching Power Tool created by Ayca Ulku
(Career Coach, TURKEY)
The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.
We all talk to ourselves in either a positive or a negative state through the power of our own internal dialogue. The power of the inner talk, the power of the states positive or negative depends on our backgrounds; how we were raised, how we were educated, what kind of experiences we had and still having. Usually we are not be aware of these effect of this inner talk on our lives and our being, but it is obvious that our lives are results of our perspectives and perceptions. For most of us it is easier being critical than being appreciative, because that is what we have learned to do during our lifetime. Criticizing is the attitude that we are used to doing. Self criticizing is the attitude that we chose in the name of being perfect. But how can we become perfect, when we are still criticizing ourselves? We mostly appreciate ourselves, our lives or others; when we see the worse. To be appreciative and use appreciation, we need more awareness. We need to look at the results and compare them when we choose to be critical or appreciative.
We become what we think and we create our lives around what we think.
You should know that you are judging yourself when you are judging others. Grand Yoga Master Akif Manaf
When we criticize or judge another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical. Criticism is an indirect way of self-boasting Emmet Fox
The dictionary meaning of “criticism” is unfavorable judgment; disapproval; the act of finding fault.
How do you feel when you see this definition? The words used in this definition all are negative, but from 1700 up to the 1950’s criticism was the most important instrument of power that adults could wield and it was for a good thing. This is still the case in some families; in fact, some societies uphold the theory that children can only become “good people” if they are continually told how wrong they are. Who are the “good people”? What is the objective of making the children “good people”? The objective primarily was to get the children obey, adapt and behave nicely… These were the values of those days…
Today the values are changed by the knowledge gained by the studies of the experts in social sciences. Today we can ask ourselves and the others
how can someone raised with constant criticism be a good person?
Today we know that, constant criticism is the absolute way to leave a child with a deep sense of worthlessness and shame. Beside that there becomes a distance between us and the people who are doing the criticizing. Children who are constantly criticized become either critical of others or self-critical. It destroys both self-esteem and self-confidence. People who grew up in critical families internalize all those negative messages so that when they become adults, they will do the same for themselves. Criticism can quickly become toxic. They will not be satisfied with the things they are doing, their personality, the life they have, the performance in their job, their friendships. A little voice inside of them will always say
this isn’t good enough. You’re not doing right. There is something wrong …
OR They will have difficulties in having intimate and warm relationships with others, because they will be dealing with the inner voice criticizing the others and themselves. All these bring anger, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, depression, personality problems or inability to identify or express feelings.
As adults to improve the quality of self- esteem – even if our self-perception is initially characterized by uncertainty, self-criticism, superficiality or pessimism- we need to make a conscious effort.
The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship. Amelia Earhart
You are not aware that you are carrying a treasure inside. To find that treasure you have to look inside not outside. Grand Yoga Master Akif Manaf
In the dictionary the verb to Appreciate has four definitions;1. to be thankful or grateful for, 2. To understand and enjoy the good qualities of, 3. To understand fully,4. To understand the high worth of someone or something. Appreciation is defined as the understanding of the qualities or worth of something, grateful feeling.
How do you feel and what comes to your mind when you read the definition? All 4 statements has positive meanings which seem like the opposite of the definitions above all about criticism. Appreciation opens a door to positive state of mind that brings peace, energy, hope, empowerment, creativity and self-confidence. Appreciation also brings whole acceptance. Appreciation is positive and affirmative.
We can actually train ourselves to search for, discover, and focus on legitimate reasons to feel appreciation.
Regardless of where we are, or what we may be doing, there is always something in our life worth appreciating. The challenge is to train ourselves to automatically search for reasons to manifest appreciation. This may or may not be your natural tendency, but with practice all of us can certainly develop the appreciation habit.
Have you ever been around someone who never has a bad word to say about anyone or anything? How do you feel while in the company of that person?
Conversely, have you ever been around someone who always has something criticize? How does that make you feel?
So the first thing we can do is to seek out friends and associates whose tendency is toward the positive side. At the same time, to make a comparison, we want to avoid spending too much time with those who like to see the negatives around. Sometimes to develop the habit of searching for, and discovering, something to appreciate about every person, situation, or experience we encounter can be difficult sometimes.
Regardless of the situation you find yourself in, asking the right questions, or making the right statements, can help you discover reasons to be appreciative. For example:
- What is there about this person, situation, or experience that I can…. appreciate?
- What valuable lesson has this experience taught me?
- What in this situation can I find to be grateful for?
- What do you think would happen if you started the chain of appreciation-just started paying attention to all the little positives that you saw around?
Criticism can be easily used as mentioned above, how about speaking your appreciation directly, saying
I appreciate what you did
and seeing the results? If you cultivate the habit of focusing on the positive, your level of appreciation will increase.
- What does criticism mean to you?
- What does appreciation mean to you?
- How much appreciation do you have in your life?
- What is the role of criticism in your life?
- When do you criticize most? How do you feel?
- How do you feel when you are criticized?
- How do you response criticism?
- How do you feel when you appreciate?
When an artist sits in front of a landscape the imagination is kindled not by searching for “what is wrong with this landscape?” but by a special ability to be inspired by those things of value worth valuing. Appreciation, it appears, draws your eye toward life, but stirs our feelings, sets in motion our curiosity, and provides inspiration to the envisioning mind. (Cooperrider&Whitney,2005,p-8)
Coaching is a process and a profession which has a positive foundation. The International Coach Federation defines coaching in the following way:
Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives. Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has. (ICF website, 2006)
The definition itself is appreciative. As coaches we naturally accept the client is creative and resourceful, this is an appreciation. And as coaches with this positive and appreciative perspective; we help our clients to see and use their strengths in a positive way to accomplish their goals. Using positive language and attitude, without judgment and criticism, in the beginning seems different and interesting to the clients; but then comes some mental shifts naturally. Being honest when you appreciate someone or something is very important, when do this with dishonesty it can easily be understood. Honesty, appreciation, positive attitude leads to form an open relationship with the client for deeper conversations.
Also with the help of the powerful questions you can support your client to make a shift in their perspective or reframe, such as:
- What is the most enjoyable aspect about this?
- What is the most energizing aspect about this?
- What is your perspective on this that is giving you this result?
- How does this perspective work for you?
- In what way is the current situation absolutely perfect?
When you are listening your client, recognizing the language client uses and the times when they are criticizing most; helps you to create awareness with the client about their attitude and behavior.
- How do you apply appreciation as a coach in the coaching relationship with your client?
- What kind of questions do you use when there is a need to shift perspective from criticism to appreciation?
- What kind of questions do you use to support the client to create awareness about their attitudes?
Cooperrider David L. & Whitney Diana, A Positive Revolution in Change: Appreciative Inquiry, 2005
ICA, Learning Model 1, Coaching What Is It?,2010
Manaf Akif,Grand Yoga Master, Quotes 1&2,2012