“If you don’t appreciate me soon, I’ll just quit…”
I spent last night searching for a special breed of handsome man on OKCupid.com. Why you should you care? It’s not because I need to broadcast that I’m currently single.
No, I want to know if you’re with me or against me in my deepest desire for the workplace. Hang in there with me. I’ll quickly explain the link between online dating and careers.
See, whenever I’m on OKCupid, I check to see how guys answer one specific multiple choice question, out of the thousands of questions used to assess compatibility.
My “make or break” question is: “How frequently do you go out of your way to make others feel appreciated?”
What’s your answer?
• “Way more than average”
• “About average”
• “Less than average/Never”
For me, a potential partner had better answer “Way more than average.” Or I’m not interested in the guy. At all.
Back to the workplace: There’s an Appreciation Deficit Disorder at work. Do you agree? Are your co-workers, managers, clients full of criticisms? Do you get enough appreciation?
So, are you with me or against me in my deepest desire — for more explicit appreciation at work?
I know that appreciation matters. Sadly, clients come to me saying:
“I feel so unappreciated. “
“I feel unrecognized and invisible at work”
“My boss never says anything about my hard work and accomplishments.”
Last week, I heard this doozie: “I’m ready to tell my boss: ’If you don’t appreciate me soon, I’ll just quit.’”
Ouch. That’s just sad. And wrong.
Do you see what I’m seeing?
I’m not advocating complimenting each other on our outfits or hairstyles. That’s nice to hear, but it’s literally staying on the surface level. We need to go much deeper, to pay more attention to how talented and hard working our colleagues are.
We need to let people know we value them. I’m not suggesting flattery. I am suggesting you take notice of people around you and them when they’re making a positive impact. Of course, that doesn’t prohibit you from telling someone “You need to make improvements.”
I believe that when more people notice and tell each other what’s most sensational about each other at work, we’ll all feel more confident, creative, and like we’re able to make our biggest contribution.
Don’t you really want your co-workers, your manager, and your clients to see the energy and care you put into your work? It might be the spiffy graphic you designed, the analytical report you compiled, the million lines of computer code you wrote, or anything else.
So, if you want that, what are the people around you hungry for? They, too, want to hear a comment from you that lets them know you’ve really taken notice.
It’s helpful to have others hold up a mirror to help us see where we shine. It’s hard to have to constantly do that for ourselves, especially in a world that loves to look for flaws. When we don’t look out for and call out each other’s talents and accomplishments, that leads to a mediocre working world.
Why We Don’t Show Appreciation
We’re not used to shouting out about the good in others because we’re bombarded by negativity. On reality TV shows like The Biggest Loser or The Bachelor, the characters thrive on finding fault with one another. (No more on the dating theme, I promise). TV news plays up the negative stories. Schools focus on how many problems a student gets wrong, rather than how many they got correct. We’re awash in the wrong, rather than the right.
Despite their titles, managers often don’t know the value of appreciation. If your manager grew up in a family that didn’t notice his or her talents and virtues (and didn’t get positive strokes), it’s unlikely that person readily gives you the encouragement you’re seeking. Fortunately, in a company culture that intentionally cultivates appreciation, people learn its importance and start sharing it.
We can’t expect a culture of appreciation to simply organically arise. You and me, we need to deliberately seed the shift to sharing appreciation. Why? Because our brains are naturally wired to glom on the negative, and gloss over the positive, unless we deliberately strive to do things differently. Otherwise, we focus on the flaws in someone’s presentation, rather than celebrate all that’s right about what they’ve so diligently crafted. We can shift that wiring, if we set the intention. What if we all paid more attention to what people at work are doing well — and enthusiastically celebrated what they’re doing well?
What you appreciate grows in value. When you point out what’s working, you tend to get more of it.
Wouldn’t it be nice to get appreciated for your greatest talents? And then find yourself enjoying even more work that taps into what fuels you? How uplifting would that be?
How to Show Appreciation
How can you appreciate others so they feel good and share more of their sensational gifts? Let’s look at the four levels of appreciation
A compliment is something you like or notice, and that item or behavior makes you feel good. Something like “I like the blue scarf you’re wearing.” Or “You did a nice job on the presentation.” It’s light and may be uplifting, but it’s not designed to help someone notice their own brilliance.
(2) Basic Appreciation
This is noticing the good in another and saying something encouraging. “I saw you make that big presentation to our new client! Good job!” In this comment, you still have room to help the recipient develop.
(3) “I See Your Impact” Appreciation
In this form of appreciation, you tell someone how they made a difference in the outcome of a project or situation. Something like, “I appreciate how the informative, catchy poster you created helped us to publicize the upcoming workshop, and we completely filled it this time!”
(4) “Tell Me How You Did It” Appreciation
This goes one step beyond the “I See Your Impact” style of appreciation, by really engaging further with the person you appreciate, and helping him or her articulate their unique form of genius. It might go something like this: ““I appreciate how the informative, catchy poster you created helped us to publicize the upcoming workshop, and we completely filled it this time! How did you generate the idea for that poster?”
Here’s a deep appreciation hack for you to use:
“I noticed you using your talent for ___ (name their sensational skill, talent, or ability), and the positive impact it had on ___ (this event/thing/product/issue that matters to us). How did you do that?”
Not Feeling Appreciated?
If you’re working with people who overlook the positive in you, ask for a daily dose. You might say something like “Hey, it makes me feel more included when you tell me what I’m doing well.” Or “When you give me specific feedback on where I’ve made a positive impact, that encourages me to do a better job.”
You can also practice noticing and naming when you see others being sensational. You’ll “prime the pump” by modeling behaviors you want to spread.
Go, Unleash the Flow of Appreciation
I believe we would all be a lot happier, more creative, and more productive if we regularly, intentionally coaxed the best out of our colleagues and clients. I believe the workplace would be a lot friendlier and vibrant if we sought to support each other in a really encouraging way, rather than being so competitive and driven to quash others.
Do you agree?
Imagine you walk into your workplace tomorrow morning, and everything has shifted. Now, people are encouraged to genuinely see and supportively share what they see in each other. What do you suppose the energy in that workplace would be like? In a workplace that shifts to bring out what’s most sensational in their people, what would the productivity be like? What would the recruiting process look like?
So, who will you appreciate when you finish reading this? How great will they feel when they hear from you? Let the appreciation flow!
John Lennon sang, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…” I doubt I’m alone in wanting to create workplaces that strive to cultivate each other’s sensational talents.
Let me hear from you…What are your first steps to creating this kind of sensational shift in appreciation at work?
By the way…Do you need support to feel more sensational about yourself at work? I’m here to help with that. Whether that’s asking for (and getting) more appreciation at work, fixing a nasty conflict situation, or moving on to a more supportive workplace, I’d love to help you!
Email me and tell me what’s up. I’ll write you back right away, and if it makes sense, we’ll set up a complimentary consultation to explore how we can work together.