Every single person wants to be appreciated. Feeling appreciated is a basic ingredient to thrive at work and home.
David recalls a time when he worked for what he calls his “worst boss ever” and rarely if ever felt appreciated. Each day was filled with drama. Here is what he experienced:
- The leader talked about appreciation, but was the first to criticize and belittle others, causing even more mistrust and dissatisfaction;
- He felt undervalued and wasn’t motivated to come up with good ideas;
- He didn’t speak up in meetings for fear of being criticized in front of others; and
- He played it safe and worried about making mistakes more than taking risks.
You could call what David experienced a culture of criticism. The workplace does not have to be this way and, yet, according to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, only 10% of adults say “thanks” to a colleague every day, and just 7% express gratitude to their boss.
We are living today in an epidemic of criticism and blame, which requires that you be intentional about bringing appreciation into your culture. You may be hoping that a thank-you culture will begin at the top, with leaders, but the truth is there are things you can do wherever you are on the organizational chart.
We consulted with one team that began their weekly staff meeting with this question: “What do you most appreciate since our last meeting.” Here are a few examples of what they said:
- “I appreciate how everyone covered for me while I was out last week with the flu.”
- “I appreciate everyone’s follow-through so we could meet our project deadline.”
- “I appreciate that we don’t have a lot of answers right now, but we keep taking baby steps and learning.”
- “I appreciate that we take time for appreciation!”
They noticed that the energy of the meetings started to change. People even showed up on time so as not to miss the appreciation comments. Another benefit was that people started looking for things to share, which means their focus shifted (the 1st Vital Question asks; where are you putting your focus?).
Instead of giving energy to complaints, they gave their attention and focus to what they appreciated. It was like people put on a new pair of glasses, seeding a cultural shift out of drama, gossip and protests to noticing what they appreciated.
This is huge because, when people’s attention is on what’s working and what they appreciate, their thinking becomes a catalyst for more creativity. People think better—and are more innovative—in a thank-you culture.
In additional to the idea of starting every meeting with appreciations, here are a few more principles that cultivate a culture of appreciation:
- Start with yourself. If you appreciate yourself, others will notice and are more likely to treat you the same way you treat yourself.
- When you focus on appreciating others, it will have a boomerang effect. The feeling you show toward others will come back to you.
- Show that you genuinely appreciate another point of view, embracing the idea that a difference of opinion helps the team to clarify and widen the collective perspective.
Where might you start to create a thank-you culture?
Appreciation improves thinking by stimulating the heart which, in turn, stimulates the brain to work better. All human beings need and want appreciation.
We believe people of the world are crying out to be appreciated. It is a universal desire and it is the one thing that can change everything for good.