The impact of appreciating others is often overlooked and underestimated. My friend Mike, an inventor and engineer, worked 370 days straight without a weekend break or holiday, to complete a major project for his company. He received a holiday card from an engineer colleague, who wrote three simple, but very personal lines letting Mike know now much his efforts meant to him, and what a difference Mike’s expertise and dedication had made to the team project. During a holiday gathering, Mike shared the card with me, which let me know how important this was to him. In the world of an engineer this was huge! He told me that when he received the card, it made him well up with emotion. These few words of appreciation literally made a grown man cry.
Wow, this made me reflect on my own practices of appreciating others, and reminded me that I could do so much more to let others know what I appreciate about them. Imagine if we didn’t wait weeks, years or decades to thank others, but instead we delivered gifts of praise and appreciation to our family members and employees immediately and often.
A few years ago I talked with Antonia at Helen Sanderson Associates about how our family used a Blue Plate to introduce the importance of civility, praise and compliments at the dinner table. This interview snippet was part of a collection of stories to accompany the book “Celebrating Families” by Helen Sanderson. The book has lots of ideas about appreciating families that can easily be applied to appreciating others in the workplace.
My Blue Plate equivalent in the work place is opening each meeting with team members sharing something they are pleased or proud about in their work or at home. And we close each meeting with comments of appreciations for our time together in the meeting. The results have been consistently uplifting and provide the needed glue that keeps our team connected and cohesive during very challenging times of increasing workloads and diminishing resources. While I continue this practice I want be more intentional about offering praise and appreciating others in the workplace. If we each did a little better in this area, I believe our collective impact would result in greater morale and improved employee performance. So here are some reminders for us all as we offer praise and appreciation to others.
Appreciating Others at Work
- Be specific. Comment on behaviors, not vague generalities. Look for the obscure accomplishment that the person may not hear over and over again. That makes them know you are really noticing their unique qualities.
- Be sincere. If it’s not felt from the heart, it will not be received well. Tell them what you like and admire.
- Focus on effort as well as ability. Acknowledge small wins and progressive attempts at getting to an end result. Let people know about the personality traits that you like and admire. That may be just the motivation that is needed to overcome an obstacle.
- Give praise freely. Do not attach any strings or seek anything in return for your praise. It makes the appreciation feel like a set-up.
- Praise the impact of their work. Tell them how they have made a difference in your life or in the lives of the people they support.
How do you like to give praise? How do you like to receive praise and appreciation? If you appreciate what you’ve read, please ‘like’ and share. Have a great day!