‘The deepest prinicple of human nature is a craving to be appreciated’

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Steps to Success: The Value of Appreciation

Being a mum can be a pretty thankless job. Rewarding beyond measure, but one rarely hears a thank you for the years of wearing baby sick, the sleepless nights and the grey hair from a lifetime of concern for our children’s safety and well-being. And even with my best efforts, my son will probably do what I did: grow up and blame all his shortcomings on his parents!

At least we get Mother’s Day and a macaroni necklace ... and next month, Father’s Day.

There is apparently a day set aside for all the under-appreciated: Teacher’s Day, Administrative Professional’s Day (formerly Secretary’s Day), Boss’s day and the list goes on. With the help of greeting card companies, it seems that everyone gets one day of

appreciation.

But is this enough? Particularly in situations where we are not tied to our responsibility by love and possibly DNA.

William James, American psychologist and philosopher said: “The deepest principle of human nature is a craving to be appreciated.”

Whatever we do for others, knowing that our efforts have been recognised and appreciated makes the work feel worthwhile. We feel valued. Our fundamental human needs for significance and contribution are being fulfilled.

Conversely, without appreciation we can feel taken for granted and taken advantage of, leading to resentment and negativity.

Research suggests that employees, for example, who feel appreciated are more productive, feeling greater levels of job satisfaction and engagement resulting in higher staff retention rates. Other reported benefits include more fulfillment, more positive attitudes, decreased stress and burnout and healthier, sustainable relationships.

This ultimately reflects on the bottom line. A study by the research consultants, Jackson Organization, shows that companies that effectively appreciate employees, experience a return on equity and assets more than triple that of firms that don’t.

Lack of appreciation is the number-one reason people quit their jobs, seen in date from the US Department of Labor. Yet, according to a survey conducted last year by the John Templeton Foundation, only 10% of adults say thanks to a colleague every day, and just 7% express gratitude daily to a boss.

Real appreciation goes beyond just saying thank you, says clinical psychologist and consultant, Noelle Nelson. In her book, Make More Money By Making Your Employees Happy, she writes: “Appreciation is the deliberate, proactive valuing of your employee and what he or she has to offer. Appreciation is letting your employees know, in every way you can think of, the following: You matter, You count, You are important ... in concrete, practical ways.”

And I would venture that this definition applies to showing appreciation to others in all arenas of our lives and relationships.

In corporate settings there can be an attitude that a ‘paycheck’ is enough of a ‘thank you’ for employees. And I have seen a similar attitude in some marriages where there is one primary bread-winner and one primary care-giver. But while we want to feel adequately compensated for the work we do, feeling valued isn’t just about the money.

Much of the boost we get from being appreciated is the resulting personal connectedness we feel with those we are working with and for, and the affirmation of our contribution.

A personalised recognition of someone’s efforts, in a meaningful way to that individual (despite being less monetary value) can feel more rewarding for the recipient than just an addition to the payslip.

Fostering a culture of appreciation, in any environment, boosts morale and is a motivation tool that inspires us to go the extra mile. It helps avoid the mire of negativity, complaining and resentment that creeps in when feeling undervalued. And celebrating

successes encourage us to achieve more of them.

Tips for showing appreciation

* Saying Thank You is a start. Rather than just, “thanks”, be specific. Thanking someone for the action they took and tell them the resulting benefit it created for you makes it more meaningful and concrete. Similarly, try taking the time to put your appreciation in writing with a thank-you card/note.

* Recognise the little things as these are often the gestures that make the office/household/world run more smoothly and pleasantly.

* Publicly acknowledge great work — the benefits are twofold: recognition for the individual and showing others what’s going well and what they can aspire to (however, consider the recipient’s feelings — public recognition might make some uncomfortable).

* Tailor your expression of appreciation to the individual ... make it personal — showing that you have listened to their interests/likes will further reinforce their feelings of being heard, recognised and understood. Or let the employee pick the reward for their job well done. Hint — corporate event tickets, merchandise or company services/perks are treats that won’t break the bank.

* Keep it coming — Business psychologist Debra Condren suggests, “Especially during tough economic periods, it’s important to give people face time and basic human appreciation on a regular basis.”

* Open communications to find out what others’ concerns or gripes may be ... then address them. Demonstrate the value their well-being.

* Literally ask others what you can do to show them how much their efforts are appreciated.

So to all mothers and maternal carers, happy upcoming Mothers’ Day and thank you! Your attention and dedication reflect in the children whose lives you touch and ultimately in our community.

And to my own mum, always there for me, offering her help, support, and love — I want you to know that everyday I am grateful for you.

No doubt we all have people in our lives (personal and professional) who deserve more appreciation. Collectively we reap the benefits of recognising each other’s efforts and valuing the positive contributions made towards our success.

Julia Pitt is a trained Success Coach and certified NLP practitioner. For further information contact Julia on (441) 705-7488, www.juliapittcoaching.com

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Published May 7, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated May 6, 2013 at 5:44 pm)

‘The deepest prinicple of human nature is a craving to be appreciated’

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