We can all play our part in strengthening workplace resilience. We can help boost each other’s morale. Indeed, if we care enough, we can empower others.
Filling people’s emotional piggy bank costs nothing, yet can be invaluable.”
We all crave to be seen, heard and acknowledged!
“I truly believe we all crave to seen, heard and acknowledged.” Whether I say that to individuals, groups or large audiences heads nod in the affirmative.
When I first began working in a counseling agency, I was thrilled with the supervision. My manager smiled, nodded and listened as I worked out my problems through non-stop, extroverted talking. As I exited from his office, I would turn, thank him for his time and he would respond with a generous laugh and a big “You’re most welcome.” I left notes of appreciation on his desk and the occasional homemade muffin. I was surprised, therefore, when I learned that long-time employees felt frustrated by his lack of wise guidance.
The lesson? Acknowledgment and a sense of gratitude improve working conditions whether it is sent or received by employees or management.
Boosting other people costs nothing, takes little energy and will help those at work and home feel and function better. Plus it enables you to make a positive difference. It has been well researched that the number one reason children misbehave is to attract attention. It is accepted that they need love, appreciation and encouragement. Why should those needs end when we become adults? Love, appreciation and encouragement are longed for in many marriages. The three ‘c’s in the marital therapy business are commitment, communication, and cherishing. There is increasing evidence that workers also seek positive attention.
“Sawu Bona” is a South African greeting which literally means, “I see you.” If you are not greeted in this way in South Africa, it is the biggest insult you could give another. Its deeper meaning is “because you are there, I exist,” that “without each other we literally do not exist.” Imagine what your workplace would be like if this acknowledgment was genuinely sent and received on a daily basis.
A 2003 Gallup poll on employee engagement and satisfaction reported that the number one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they do not feel appreciated. It was also reported that 65% of the respondents had received no job-related recognition in the last year. They wanted recognition! Don’t we all, from childhood to our dying days, long to be seen, heard and known?
The three main strategies for people boosting are acknowledgment, appreciation and encouragement. All three strategies include the skills of observing and describing behavior.
Acknowledge means to accept as a fact or truth. There are people who do not feel seen or heard. Some even feel invisible. Have you heard anyone say, “It is as if I don’t exist,” or “It is as if I am not heard?” Just like kids, some people would rather receive negative attention than none. That way, they at least have their reality confirmed. Effective acknowledgment sounds like this:
- “I hear your concern that (describe what was said).”
- “I noticed that you (describe behavior).”
- “I see the stress on your face.”
- “I’m interested in your feedback.”
- “Tell me more.”
Appreciate means to value. We show appreciation by expressing gratitude for small and big differences someone makes that affect our lives. We can appreciate something as simple as a smile. Have you heard anyone say, “No one cares how hard I work, or She’s never satisfied?” The behaviors we focus on expand. In How Full is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life, authors Tom Rath and Donald Cliffton indicate that everyone needs five positive interactions for every negative one. Here are some useful appreciative statements:
- “Thank you.”
- “I appreciate that you . . . (describe behavior).”
- “I like the way you . . . (describe behavior).”
- “You helped me by . . . (describe behavior).”
Encourage means to increase confidence or raise hope. Effective encouragement avoids competition or comparisons with others. Have you ever felt discouraged by remarks such as, You will never learn, It’s your fault, Harry did it better, or Quit making mistakes? Encouragement gives information about what is working and how to increase competency. It focuses more on the behavior and less on judgments or words of praise. For example, “The focus you gave this project paid off,” is better than “Good job.” The person receiving the former message knows what to do next time to achieve success.
Good job is praise. It’s nonspecific and the receiver does not have valuable information to repeat a job well done. Many of us confuse praise with encouragement.
Recently, I was told by a colleague,”I am proud of you.” It didn’t land well with me. It seemed as if he was taking some ownership for my accomplishment. It sounded parental and yet, I did not know what I did well. Here are five examples of effective and encouraging statements:
- “Each day I see improvement in (describe behavior).”
- “I feel pleased with your (describe behavior).”
- “I noticed that you gave a lot of time and effort to the job.”
- “I heard that you accepted a lot of responsibility.”
- “I see you are now doing all the steps in order.”
These strategies will help the people in your life feel better about being in your presence and will empower them to improve their performance. At home look for less conflict, improved co-operation and more reciprocal appreciation. Notice more romance and communication in your love life. In the workplace look for increased productivity, fewer accidents, employee retention and improved customer satisfaction. Most of all look in the mirror and see an acknowledging, appreciative and encouraging People Booster. Yes, you can empower others!
Who has boosted you? How did he or she do it? What people boosting behaviors are you passing on? Bravo for your willingness to empower others!