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Laura Trice: Is It Okay To Ask For Appreciation?

Jan 18, 2019
Originally published on January 23, 2019 1:03 pm

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Approaching With Kindness.

About Laura Trice's TED Talk

What would happen if we actually asked others to praise and appreciate us for the work we do? Laura Trice examines the importance of building our sense of self-worth by asking for what we need.

About Laura Trice

Laura Trice works as a therapist specializing in addiction recovery and forgiveness. She earned her M.D. from the University of Vermont's College of Medicine.

She is the creator of Writing in Recovery, a therapeutic program that uses creative practices like journaling and music, and has conducted programs with federal inmates, medical students, and academic groups across the country.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit


Today on the show, Approaching With Kindness. And most of us think of kindness and appreciation as things we give. But sometimes, there's value in asking for them, too. Laura Trice is a doctor and a therapist. And she spoke about this idea from the TED stage.


LAURA TRICE: I'm here to talk to you about the importance of praise, admiration and thank you and having it be specific and genuine. And the way I got interested in this was I noticed in myself when I was growing up that I would want to say thank you to someone. I would want to praise them. I'd want to take in their praise of me. And I'd just stop it. And I asked myself, why? I felt shy, felt embarrassed. And then my question became, am I the only one who does this? So I decided to investigate.

I'm fortunate enough to work in the rehab facility, so I get to see people who are facing life and death with addiction. And sometimes, it comes down to something as simple as their core wound is their father died without ever saying he's proud of them. But then they hear from all the family and friends that the father told everybody else that he was proud of them. But he never told his son because he didn't know that his son needed to hear it.

So my question is, why don't we ask for the things that we need? I know a gentleman married for 25 years who's longing to hear his wife say, thank you for being the breadwinner so I could stay home with the kids, but won't ask. I know a woman who's good at this. She, once a week, meets with her husband says, I would like you to thank me for all these things I did in the house...


TRICE: ...And with the kids. And he goes, oh, this is great. This is great. And praise really does have to be genuine. But she takes responsibility for that. And a friend of mine, April, who I've had since kindergarten, she thanks her children for doing their chores. And she said, why wouldn't I thank it even though they're supposed to do it?

So the question is, why was I blocking it? Why were other people blocking it? Why can I say, I'll take my steak medium rare? I need size 6 shoes. But I won't say, would you praise me this way? And it's because I'm giving you critical data about me. I'm telling you where I'm insecure. I'm telling you where I need your help. And I'm treating you, my inner circle, like you're the enemy because what can you do with that data? You could neglect me. You could abuse it, or you could actually meet my need.

And I took my bike into the bike store - I love this - same bike, and they do something called truing the wheels. I get the same bike back, and they've taken all the little warps out of those same wheels, and my bike is like new. So I'm going to challenge all of you. I want you to true your wheels. Be honest about the praise that you need to hear. What do you need to hear? Go home to your wife. Go ask her, what does she need? Go home to your husband. What does he need? Go home and ask those questions, and then help the people around you. I think it starts household by household, under the same roof. So let's make it right in our own backyard.

And I want to thank all of you in the audience for being great husbands, great mothers, friends, daughters, sons. And maybe somebody's never said that to you, but you've done a really, really good job. And thank you for being here and just showing up and changing the world with your ideas. Thank you.

RAZ: That's Dr. Laura Trice. To find out more about her, go to Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.