Building Appreciation in your Team – Live the Fairytale
Imagine if you felt appreciated for everything you did. Take a moment and run your mind back over your day, what have you done, what was acknowledged? What was appreciated? What wasn’t?
Now imagine That everything that you did was seen, acknowledged and enjoyed for its merits. And that everything you saw others do (and yourself), that you first noticed what you appreciated in what they are doing and how they are doing it. How would that feel to have that experience in your work every day?
Unfortunately for most, that sounds like a fairytale, I could be talking about seeing pixies and fairy dancing around your desk, and that would look as likely to you as appreciation coming first. Today I would love to inspire you to bring appreciation more to the forefront. To start to make the fairytale come to life.
How do you see the world?
Appreciation starts with how we see the world. We colour our thoughts with where we place our focus. We have the chose to concentrate on the things that we see as positive and beneficial, where we notice the good in others and yourself and go forward with positive regard for everyone. You may think that sounds like wearing rose coloured glasses. Myself, I think of it as wearing the kind of sunglasses that make everything brighter. It is not that you don’t see the things that aren’t working and that need improvement, it is that through these lenses, it is that you see that and so much more, so much more brightly.
What happens if you only see what is wrong and needs to be fixed? If you put your attention into what is lacking? In effect, you are training your brain to notice those things, and in doing so, you will see more and more of them. If on the other hand, you notice all the positives, the what is going right parts, then you train your brain to see more of those things.
So I ask you, are you up for the challenge, to notice with appreciation instead of seeing with criticism? I am not saying don’t see the problems and what is lacking (although that would be an interesting idea to play with), what I am asking is if you can give an even, or maybe slightly greater amount of attention to the positive. And if possible go to the positive first.
You can take it one step further too. Notice when you see that things that are lacking, at the same time, see the things that are also working, the opportunities, and all the hard work that has happened to that point. That is a powerful practice and will strengthen your skills in holding a positive mindset. What do you think? Where can you see this of value in your life and in your workplace?
A powerful Practice
That is a powerful practice and will strengthen your skills in holding a positive mindset.
Take a moment to turn your awareness towards yourself and think of the times when you are positive, where you see the strengths and virtues in others, where you look at the hard work people do before you see the small errors, where you shine you positive regard onto others and to yourself. Take a moment to acknowledge how and where you do that.
Give Appreciation Wings
The art of noticing the positive is one thing, giving it wings in another. You can give your appreciation wings by expressing it, by letting people know of the golden glow that you see in what they do.
Now two things come up at this point.
One is that not everyone is comfortable showing appreciation and giving praise. If this is you, then I invite you to do this with small steps. Choose things and people who it is easier to do this with and build your muscles of appreciation expression. Over time you will get more and more confident. But the key is to start where you are at right now.
The other is not everyone is comfortable at being appreciated. And if you are in this basket, you may find it hard to give appreciation as you don’t feel comfortable receiving it. The thing that I would say here is that appreciation is as much for the person giving it as it is for the person receiving it. If you can identify with this, then I invite you not only to practice giving appreciation but to also receiving it. The next time someone gives you appreciation or praise, you may like to try saying ‘Thank you’ or “a pleasure’ rather than denying or passing off your merits.
Are you looking for a way to express your appreciation in a way that can be heard?
Often I hear people shy away from appreciation because it feels like lip service. Or that when they express it, that they don’t believe that what they say is heard as appreciation. Have you experienced this? What I find is that appreciation needs to be grounded in something real. So while it is nice to say;
‘You have done a great job on this project.”
It may not actually be heard. It needs to be grounded in the WHY. Think about what difference that person has made to you, to the team, to your organisation and express that too.
‘You have done a great job on this project. Your work made my job so much easier, and the team is going to shine due to the effort that you have put into this”
Do you see the difference? Which one would you believe more? The key here is sharing not only the action that your appreciation but the positive result of the work.
True appreciation not sugar coating
And the last and key point on this is that appreciation isn’t about sugar-coating the negative. And the most prominent place that this happens is with a formula that looks like this;
Express appreciation. Then say ‘but’. And then point out what you would like to be different.
The ‘but’ in there, just wiped the slate clean of the appreciation and firmly put the lack at the overriding forefront.
A better approach would be to;
Express appreciation. Then say ‘and’. And then point out what you would like to be different, and how can you work together to improve it.
We want to create conversations where the good isn’t wiped out with the what is missing. To allow the wonderful work that has been done to be valued and honoured while looking forward to what still needs to happen.
Bring change to your workplace today
This change, a change to build appreciative workplaces, can start with one person choosing appreciation more. Wanting to see the positive. Seeing the value in what has been done and how it has been done. Even choosing to meet criticism with appreciation. And the difference that this can create in a workplace. Well, let me bandy around some big words here. Motivation, engagement, quality of work, enhanced teamwork, more productivity. And I could go on. Each of us has the power to make the fairytale real.
Are you going to be that person?
Trish Everett is a highly qualified communications consultant and mindset coach. She specialises in helping organisations build connected, innovative and success-orientated cultures in order to reduce costs and improve workforce productivity and effectiveness.
Listen to the latest episode of The Leadership Edge as Trish dives deeply into how to use appreciation in leadership. This episode gives practical approaches that you can use in your team today.