To Start Your Communication, Acknowledge Your Family Members the Way They Are

People who are acknowledged by others are happy, but those who are acknowledged by their family are even happier.


A daughter-in-law made soy sauce while her mother-in-law was sick. She did exactly the way her mother-in-law showed her, but it didn’t taste as good as her mother-in-law’s soy sauce. She had no idea what was wrong, so she asked her mother-in-law for help. Then the sick mother-in-law listened to her patiently and got up, saying, “I think I know what went wrong.” Her eyes were brighter than ever before, and she looked lively.

How could the sick mother-in-law positively help her daughter-in-law who asked her what she thought went wrong with the soy sauce she made? It was because the daughter-in-law acknowledged her mother-in-law’s skill of making soy sauce. Some people become dispirited when they become old though they were passionate when they were young. It is of course because they become weak physically, but fundamentally, it is because they feel like they have become useless beings. Do not tell your parents to just stay home and do nothing because they are old, but give them something to do with the abilities that they have, and ask them for their opinions when there is a problem. Everybody has a desire to be acknowledged by others. When their desire is satisfied, they feel happy and satisfied.

Desire to be acknowledged, one of human needs

The desire to be acknowledged by other people is called the “desire for social acknowledgement.” This is one of the basic desires of human beings along with the physiological desires that sustain life and protect the species. William James, an American psychologist, said, “The strongest desire of human beings is the desire to be acknowledged by other people.”

Little children want to be acknowledged by their parents, students by their teachers, and workers by their bosses. When they are acknowledged by others, their self-esteem and confidence are raised, and they feel stable psychologically. Even if someone has food to eat and materialistic abundance, if there’s no one to say to them, “I am happy to be with you,” or “You are a great person,” then their lives will feel empty. When this desire of being acknowledged is not satisfied, people suffer from depression and lack of enthusiasm, and even express it out with anger. A shooting accident that happened a few years ago to a live broadcast reporter in the United States, and a shooting accident that happened at a checkpoint in Korea was all from the reason that they felt disregarded by their co-workers.

Even in the family, people are to get upset if they are not acknowledged. A household head supports his family, and a housewife takes care of the house chores, and a student studies hard. All these hard works shouldn’t be taken for granted but be acknowledged with a soft and warm word. What good is it if you are not acknowledged by your family even if the whole world acknowledges you? On the contrary, you feel greatly comforted if you are acknowledged by your family even if you go through a lot outside of the family. To compliment is to make a good comment on what they are good at, and to acknowledge means to accept the way they are whether they are good or bad. Acknowledgement is a compliment in a wider range, and it itself gives encouragement.

Acknowledge your family the way they are

No one is 100% same in the world. As we all have different appearances, we all have different ways of thinking, personalities, characters, and tendencies. Just because you like a red bean bun, you cannot say, “You’re wrong,” to a person who likes a cream bun. In the same way, when someone has a different thought from yours, it doesn’t mean he or she is wrong. When you fail to admit the difference between you and them, there is a conflict and a red light turns on in your relationship with them.

It is the same with the family. The wife and the husband are different from each other, and so are the children and the parents. A home should be a place where the family members acknowledge each other as they are. To do that, you shouldn’t look down on other members for their age or different gender. For example, you should never say to your child, “You’re too young to know anything,” or “Just listen to adults,” or to your spouse, “What do you know?” This kind of comment makes the listeners feel very upset. Therefore, you should never say anything like that.

Nobody can be flawless; everybody makes a mistake. A home is where people who are lacking fill in and embrace each other. The parents who try to look perfect to their children and want their children to become perfect become exhausted and make their children feel exhausted as well. There is no perfect spouse or perfect family. However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t even try. When you acknowledge your family the way they are, admit your faults and the environment you are in, and try to find the way to improve them, a better future will open.

How to acknowledge others

What gives other people the feeling of acknowledgment comes 30% from what one says and 70% from his or her facial expressions or behaviors. Even though you say something good, it could sound negative to the listener, depending on your attitude. During a conversation, it is very important to look at their eyes, have a mild smile, and pay attention to what they are saying. If you keep looking away instead of looking at the person who is talking, or frown your face when you are talking, or change the topic all of a sudden, the person you are talking to will feel like he or she is being ignored.

Even if you don’t agree with the other person’s opinion, it’s good to agree with his or her opinion first and then give your opinion. If you ignore the other person’s opinion right away just because you don’t like it, or only try to find problems, the conversation will be cut short.

When you ask someone to do you a favor, it’s even more effective if you mention how much you acknowledge him or her. Which one sounds better, “All the others are busy, so you need to do it!” or “You are the only person who is capable of doing this. I trust you!”? Acknowledging each other is a basic condition for a conversation. Therefore, you need to let the other person feel that you are not ignoring them, but that you are acknowledging them.

Confucius said, “Don’t worry if people don’t recognize your merits; worry that you may not recognize theirs.” The Bible also says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12).” If you want to be acknowledged by other people, you must acknowledge them first. Check on your family first. See whether or not you’ve been easily ignoring them and treating them carelessly. See whether or not you’ve been refusing to talk to them because you think they don’t understand you. Never forget that communication starts from acknowledging them the way they are.