With Valentine’s around the corner, you may see this event as a marketing hype or an opportunity to show that you care, either way how we perceive if someone cares about us can differ.
Showing that you care often falls into five categories, none better than the others as it is all in the eyes of the recipient as to what meets their needs.
Quality time – spending time with those you care about
Physical Touch – cuddling, intimacy, hugs
Positive Affirmations – praise, encouragement, kind words
Acts of Service – practical things like cooking you a meal after you’ve had a hard day, washing up, breakfast in bed
Gifts – flowers, perfume, aftershave, jewellery, clothing
We like all the above but there does tend to be a preference. Our preferences can be based on conditioning – how we were raised, what is the ‘norm’ for us. For example, a Father may not feel comfortable telling his daughter ‘I love you’ if he was raised in an environment where this just wasn’t done but may feel comfortable buying a gift to represent showing that he cares. Or it can be something that we naturally prefer.
Circumstances can also influence our preferences. A busy parent of small children may need acts of service more than physical touch. A busy career person may also have similar needs, a nice meal cooked for them after a long day rather than gifts or positive affirmations.
We all like positive affirmations, those who are self-validating need it less than those who seek others approval. Recognising someone’s positive actions will bring more of those actions and the opposite is also true – if you only notice what they do wrong then they’ll stop trying.
The key is to match the other persons preferred form of showing that we care. We often make the mistake of giving our preferred form of showing that we care rather than considering what the other persons preferred form is.
This can result in the recipient not expressing their delight in a way that we would have expected had we received what was given.
It’s not that they are not grateful, it may be that it is not their preferred way. Often it will be obvious, if you’ve bought some flowers and they are delighted but don’t bat an eyelid if you’ve cleaned the entire house then you can be pretty sure that gifts are a better way to show that you care than an act of service.
If you are unsure then ask….
How can I show you that I care?
For me, I’d rather go on a family holiday to a destination that I know everyone will enjoy rather than go somewhere I want to go where I know others won’t enjoy it as much. For me quality time is far more important than gifts, but when I’m very busy at work then an act of service is a godsend and shows me that my predicament has been noted and that they care enough to show me.