Isn’t it great to feel appreciated? I personally feel that I create my best work when my contributions are recognized. I’m not alone. Studies show that the highest driver of work performance is a manager or supervisor who expresses genuine interest in her employees. It’s the deep down feeling that our efforts really do matter and that we truly are adding value to the world that pushes us forward. Hearing that communicated energizes us and creates positive ripples throughout all we do.
Feeling unvalued drains our energy and preoccupies us. Instead of contemplating how to push forward creatively, we instead worry about falling short and disappointing others. It chains our artistic expression and prevents us from taking risks. Feeling unappreciated causes us to react defensively and aggressively versus letting our guard down so our inventive juices can flow freely without fear of judgment.
So, why, if appreciative sentiments have such a positive impact, are they so rare? I believe it is a matter of vulnerability. We feel uncomfortable giving praise to others because we fear giving over our power. When we do try to express gratitude, it often comes across awkwardly at best, and phony or manipulative at worst. By holding ourselves in, we hold ourselves back. Truth is, by engaging in a mindset of true appreciation we can forge strong, positive relationships not just with others, but also with ourselves.
Start with you.
If you find it difficult to express appreciation for others, perhaps you fail to appreciate yourself. When you don’t value yourself and your own efforts you prevent others from doing so as well. It’s not a matter of conceit or self-delusion, it’s a sincere belief in yourself and your abilities. Carry yourself with confidence, and others will put their confidence in you. Even on your down days, ask yourself, “What have I positively achieved today? Of what actions can I be proud?” If you can’t answer, then change your outlook or change your activities until you can hold your head up high with your accomplishments.
Appreciate what you have.
Don’t waste your time being jealous of others or longing for more. Focusing on inequities is toxic to your self-esteem and state of mind. We spend far too much energy concentrating on our wants instead of going out and meeting our needs. These needs don’t just cover food and shelter, but our need to create and add positive value as well. Ponder not what qualities you lack, but what talents you possess that few others do. Learn not just how to appreciate those skills, but how to harness and utilize them to your advantage.
Genuinely express your appreciation for the contributions of others. Even if their result differs from your vision, express gratitude for their effort. Instead of launching into what went wrong, notice first what went right and work from there. Starting from a base of appreciation gives your team members far greater incentive to keep putting forth a strong effort, versus giving up feeling their endeavors go wasted or unnoticed. Even the smallest gesture, such as a handwritten note or email can make a difference and keep energies flowing in a positive direction.
Authentically appreciating yourself will boost your creativity, your output, and your overall mood. Authentically appreciating others enhances the efforts your team members produce on your behalf and greatly increases the likelihood that they’ll continue to produce quality work for you in the future. Just like any skill, it may take some practice at first. However, the more you work at it, the better and more natural of a response it will become, and the more genuine, joyous, and self-assured you will feel.
Thanks for reading.