Appreciation on my mind.

Something has been on my mind lately, informed by several conversations, my own feelings and a recent discussion during a client meeting. It’s pretty late, and I’m mostly posting this because of the challenge I have given myself to write 5 posts in 5 days. Pardon my half formed thoughts…

Let’s take it as an experiment in writing something that is a pure if unstructured expression of my feelings.

It’s about appreciation. How do we, do we show appreciation? What does it mean when we do?

A discussion I heard this week was about the right kind of appreciation. What people seemed to agree on was that people should not be dependent on praise, but rather should find confidence and validation from their own self worth. I can agree with that. Expressing a compliment should be centric to the person being complimented or appreciated’s ego. They shouldn’t need to feel appreciated in order to operate.

However, thinking this way may lead us to missing the point that while yes, people should not need praise or compliments to operate, the reality is that they want them. I know I do.

Appreciation and recognition of others is part of a practice of gratitude. In a work context, recognizing and being grateful to the people around you, especially those who contribute to your work, who make your work easier or perhaps challenge you.  If everyone were able to take a second, recognize and show appreciation to others for specific things, it might help us avoid feeling like we are churning along with no discernible effect or impact.

Yes, leverage other people’s ideas, build on each other’s experience and outlook. And appreciate that these things have a source, they come from a place of openness and generosity, desire to make a positive impact, working together. Doing so might create an positive spiral, where people upvote the helpful behaviours and ideas, and disregard the rest.

One of the activities we took part in last week during the #socialagesafari was to give out appreciation stamps. This helped us to be mindful of our influences and gave me an opportunity to show my appreciation to people I work with, in a conscious way, because I appreciated their effort and capability, independent of a need to be appreciated.

Being mindful at work for me is about thinking beyond my individual needs and taking advantage of the channels available to me to be sincere in my thanks when I recognize a moment to do this. I may not always do it well, or at all, but I hope that as a result, people enjoy and want to continue working with me.

I’ve thinking about and talking about starting an appreciation channel as Sea Salt, a mechanism by which we can thank each other specifically for an idea or input that helped in doing something else. For example, I would thank Paul for his client management skills that helped relieve pressure on me so I could deliver work that I am satisfied with. I don’t want to broadcast it widely or willynilly, without consideration, otherwise it won’t mean anything after a few times.

This comes from having worked with managers who don’t or are not able to show appreciation. In my opinion, it is more that a non specific thank you. It is about recognizing the specific actions or ideas of others that allowed you to go further. That kind of culture is its own reward. It is also about knitting together a tight team who can trust and rely on each other because each person has a proven track record validated by other team members. We build each other’s reputation.


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