The spoken word can be powerful when building relationships or tearing them down. In case you missed it, on page 36 in our Teaser issue psychologist Dr. Philip Mango mentioned that “words of affirmation” can be one of the five main gateways to love — the “love languages” with which people communicate. Most salient of these points, though, he noted that “Men feel particularly loved when they are given affirmation or admiration about their character, not their achievements. On the other hand, many women feel loved when they are appreciated for who they are as persons.”
Women need love; men need respect, scholars say. These findings may be some of the keys to a happy relationship. Psychologists explain that men respond best when they are praised for their character in specific and personal ways.
In a recent article, Dr. Allen Berger shared, “It’s always better to recognize the passion that exists within a man, rather than what he actually does or how much he makes… Recognize his commitment to excellence or the tenacity he’s had in following his dream, and he’ll be grateful.”
So important was the male need for affirmation and admiration of character, that Dr. Berger suggested that if it were employed, it could help encourage courtesy and — did he say it? — chivalry. “Keep it personal and specific,” recommends Dr. Berger. “Say, ‘When you pulled out the chair for me at dinner, I felt really special. Thank you.’” If you like that kind of thing, those few affirming words could be worth considering.
Relationships of all sorts can be confusing to navigate; there are few guideposts for how to interact or behave. Still, these suggestions for positive reinforcement may help pierce through the murkiness and give insight into what we as women value so that others can offer more of it.