How many times do we get feedback when we don’t want it and don’t receive appreciation when we crave it?
There is a subtle but important difference between feedback and appreciation. At a personal level, feedback is predominately focussed on what someone is doing and whilst aimed at improving performance can be positive or negative. Appreciation, on the other hand, is focussed on the person, who they are, who they are being, and is always positive.
We are quick to give negative feedback, less so the positive. Sadly, it is unusual to give appreciation. There is plenty written about how to give and receive feedback, so let’s focus primarily on the art of giving and receiving appreciation.
In the workplace, many employees report that feeling appreciated by their employer and/or co-workers promotes their sense o self-worth, greater emotional investment in their work and fosters a more trusting environment.
For some of us, giving and even receiving appreciation is not easy….
We asked workshop participants, who all worked in the same department, to pair up and offer a word or two of appreciation to each other. For most of them, this was extremely difficult to do, both as the speaker and as the receiver. Part of the reason it feels difficult is firstly, it is unusual, and secondly, it requires us to tune in and sense the other person, and then allow a word or two to arise from within. It is not something to think about, the words come from our heart.
However, offering appreciation itself is straightforward….
The speaker looks at the recipient, pauses and allows a word or two of appreciation to arise, not to over think it, and simply trust that the words will come. The receiver looks at the speaker, listens closely to the words and feels the emotion behind what they were saying, takes it in and says, “Thank you”. Swap over and repeat.
When working in groups, at the end of a meeting, invite everyone to offer a word of appreciation to the group and then to the person on their left or right.
Try it with your partner or child tonight, and watch them taking it in….after, of course, they ask, “What do you want?
We crave being appreciated as it helps us to feel seen and heard, to feel valued, and to know that we matter.