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Can you say appreciation?
by Roxanne Emmerich, CMC, CSP

"What I hate about working here is that I am inundated with gratitude, praise and appreciation."

You're right, I never really heard anybody say that either. The reality is that at all levels, in the vast majority of companies, people feel unappreciated.

The problem stems from the fact that we expect perfection from our colleagues. When we don't get it, we feel let down. Our normal reaction is to point out all the inept people, bungled projects, and flawed personality problems to our colleagues. Worse yet, we don't even confront people directly with what it was that disappointed us, but instead spread the word to co-workers.

Spreading the word indirectly creates two problems. One, the person who is messing up is not getting direct feedback and is therefor not likely to improve. Two, the soul of the organization is being robbed. Pettiness thrives. People who are listening to the whiners know that it is the "company way" of handling problems and that they too can expect to be on the outside soon as people will showcase their mistakes publicly. Guilt and shame run rampant. Maturity and self-esteem plummet. A powerful trend is sucking the blood out of everyone…including the company.

What if, instead, you made a conscious effort to show appreciation to the people you work with on a daily basis? Just imagine calling those people in sales and thanking them for selling the product because without them, you would not have a job. What if you called somebody who does operations and thanked them for their speed and accuracy because it makes your job easier. Wouldn't they just flip?

In giving appreciation, it is important to give the kind that people want. Some people feel you are not being authentic if you lay it on too thick. Here are a few types of ways people like to receive feedback. People generally have one style so try several and stick with what works:
  1. Appreciate their ideas. Some people feel that what the really bring to the workplace is creativity and "outside-the-box" thinking. These people tend to be very uncomfortable receiving gushy appreciation about how wonderful they are.
  2. Appreciate what they do. This group can be recognized as the taskmasters who crank out work efficiently. They value efficiency and you'll get more of it if you reward it.
  3. Appreciate their ability to solve problems. There is a group in every workplace that comes alive when there is a crisis. In fact, they've been known to create a crisis where none exists so they can do what they do best.
  4. Appreciate who they are. This group is easy to spot. They have pictures on their desks of family and friends. When they listen, you feel like they are listening with their heart and they show all the emotion on their faces. Let this group know how much you appreciate them for who they are.
Although each group likes to receive reinforcement in their style, don't hold back giving them any style. Just give reinforcement.

Any parent who ever gave in to a whining child knows they got more whining next time. We get what we reinforce.

This principle doesn't only apply to children. Our colleagues tend to give us exactly what reinforce. If someone is difficult for you to work with, reinforce the things you appreciate about them and watch how they give you more of it.

And while you're doling out all that appreciation, don't forget yourself. People don't treat us better than we treat ourselves.

Roxanne Emmerich is the author of Profit-Growth Banking: How to Master 7 Breakthrough Strategies of Top-Performing Banks. She is renowned for her work with helping many of the top-performing banks in the country stay miles ahead of their competitors. Roxanne Emmerich is one of the most applauded business women in the United States. She is listed by Sales and Marketing Management magazine as one of the 12 most requested speakers in the nation for her unparalleled ability to create immediate, profound, and sustainable transformations for her clients.

Copyright Roxanne Emmerich. All Rights Reserved.

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