Why Not Appreciate

                                                                                      Dr. Ashutosh Karnatak  

It is a paradox in life that we always want to be appreciated, but on the contrary we seldom do so to others. Is it our grooming or inherent tendency in human beings, or is it just selfish attitude?  Recently I was going through some management books which dealt primarily with questionnaires of Gallop international. The books defined 12 questions to find out the status of an individual at the work place i.e. how the employee feels at his work place.  

              It is presumed that the intelligence level of the employee is average and primarily everyone is willing to work.  When a person joins a profession, he starts with a willingness to work and contribute to the organisation .At this point of time it is important to give him proper directions so that he is moulded to the requirements of the company, and of course the role of mentor and his psyche is very important. It is similar to sowing the seed and monitoring its growth. Although the growth of the seed depends on its species, it is also largely sensitive to the type of land, its fertility and the manure being used. The same corollary also applies for an employee. The initial days of an employee are every important. It would decide whether he would turn to be a barren or fruit bearing tree.  

 Various great personalities have opined on appreciation in their own manner: 

William Arthur – American writer

Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you. 

Sam Walton – Wal Mart

Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They're absolutely free and worth a fortune.  

William James – Psychologist 

The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. 

 Mother Teresa  - Social Worker

 There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread. Voltaire - Philosopher 

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.

 Gautama Buddha

 Good men and bad men differ radically. Bad men never appreciate kindness shown them, but wise men appreciate and are grateful. Wise men try to express their appreciation and gratitude by some return of kindness, not only to their benefactor, but to everyone else. Sir Thomas Browne – English Author 

Rough diamonds may sometimes be mistaken for worthless pebbles. 

Frederick Koenig - Inventor

 We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. 

Meaning of Appreciation The dictionary gives this definition for appreciation:  Gratitude; thankful; recognition.

 Impact of Appreciation on the Body Appreciation is the positive attribute which activates glands to release positive hormone in the body to give a very soothing feeling and elated effect. It could result in us wanting to change the system, or environment or even the world.Now just imagine. If our society is habituated to appreciate others, then our world will really become heaven .It is not difficult to achieve this. All it needs is just a change of attitude. It involves the  transfer of positive energy in the form of appreciation. 

Appreciation is Worth More Than Money In the corporate world a few words of appreciation are worth more than money. Generally an employee who has delivered results throughout the year is granted handsome increments or bonus. But there are many others who are also looking for appreciation. This can be done by various methods. 1)     Letters of appreciation  2)     Communicating through e-mails 3)     Promoting the individual 4)     Foreign visits or postings 5)     Consulting and taking advice whenever required 6)     Publication of achievements in house journals  But the most effective way of appreciation is that which is spoken in front of others. This makes the individual feel elated and differentiated from others. 

 Silent and Spoken Appreciation  Silent appreciation means that you have the knowledge of the actions that others are doing. There is a common tendency to ignore this most of the time as we normally think only about ourselves and our interests. Just take a moment to visualize the efforts done by your parents, your life partner, and your colleagues for you. You may brush it off saying that it was their responsibility. Yes, it may be true, but what about YOUR responsibility – even a silent acknowledgement? One must understand the efforts of others which is knowingly or unknowing done for you. It would help you in appreciating others. Spoken appreciation is another type of appreciation used when you would like to acknowledge the efforts done by someone. This could be at the workplace, home etc. A few words of appreciation lead to a lot of encouragement to the doer.

  A Story on Appreciation A young academically excellent man applied for a managerial position in a big company. He got through the first interview.  The director of the company then conducted the final interview to select the right candidate for the post. The director realized from the CV that the youth's academic achievements were excellent throughout, from the secondary school till  postgraduate research. Never was there a year when he did not top score.  The director asked, "Did you obtain any scholarships in school?" The youth answered "None". The director asked, "Was it your father who paid for your school fees?" The youth answered, "My father passed away when I was one year old. It was my mother who paid for my school fees.” The director asked, "Where did your mother work?" The youth answered, "My mother worked as a clothes cleaner“. The director requested the youth to show his hands. The youth showed a pair of hands that were my smooth and perfect.  The director then asked, "Have you ever helped your mother wash clothes?" The youth answered, "Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books. Furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me.”The director said, "I have a request. When you go back today, go and clean your mother's hands, and then see me tomorrow morning.”  The youth felt that his chances of getting the job were high. When he went back home he happily requested his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange. She was happy but also had mixed feelings. She showed her hands to her son. The youth cleaned his mother's hands slowly. Tears welled in his eyes as he did that. It was the first time he noticed that his mother's hands were so wrinkled, and she had so many bruises on them. Some bruises were so painful that his mother shuddered when they were cleaned with water. This was the first time the youth realized that it was this pair of bruised hands that washed clothes everyday to enable him to pay his school fees. The bruises in his mother's hands were the price that she had to pay for his graduation, academic excellence and his future. After cleaning his mother’s hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for her. That night, mother and son talked for a very long time.  The next morning, the youth returned to the director's office. The director noticed the tears in the young man’s eyes and asked: “Can you tell me what you learned in your house yesterday?" The youth answered, “I cleaned my mother's hands and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes”.  The Director asked, “Please tell me your feelings.”  The youth said,  

  • Firstly, I now know what appreciation is. Without my mother, there would not be a successful me today.
  • Secondly, by working together and helping my mother, I now realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done.
  • Thirdly, and most important, I have come to appreciate the importance and value of family relationship.

 The director said, “This is what I am looking for in my manager. I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired”.The young man worked very hard, and in time to come received the respect of his subordinates. Every employee worked diligently and as a team. The company's performance improved tremendously.

So it is appreciation, which we neglect.

 Why We Don’t Appreciate :

It is my belief that the behaviour of a person largely depends on what he is exposed to. His training from childhood from his parents, teachers and colleagues all have a major role in casting the behaviour of the individual. It largely depends on his psyche and environmental conditions.

The following determinants also have a major impact: 

1)     How the employee treats him/her: If an individual has suffered in his career due to his bosses, he would not be able to appreciate others, as the erstwhile behaviour of his superiors has made an impression on his sub-conscious mind. It is mere reflection of the same. 

2)     Condition at work place: This is similar to the above point. If one feels that appreciation is not the norm and has little impact in his office, then he too would desist from it and opts for a similar behaviour. 

 3)     Appreciation by seniors: Generally one tries to emulate the behaviour of his bosses. You might have experienced reprimanding by the management during review meetings. But do you remember any incident that was appreciated in the last one month? This would make a lot of difference. It affects the psyche of the individual on two accounts. These are the broad reasons which make a person least bothered and less appreciable of others. 

 Improvement Techniques:

 1)     Nurturing from childhood: Habits are formed from childhood as the child watches his parents. A child who is protected and habitually given whatever he wants would develop "entitlement mentality" and would always put himself first. He would be ignorant of his parent's efforts in his development and won’t form the habit of appreciating others. This attitude would continue to remain in him even when he enters his professional life.  When he starts work, he would assume that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he would never know the sufferings of his employees and would always blame others.  Hence, itself it is the responsibility of parents to impart training to their children to appreciate efforts of others. I have seen some children after they grow up who tell their old parents that the efforts done by them for the development of their children was part of their duty. To avoid such behavior, children should be asked to help their mother in the house work and the kitchen. This training from childhood will help a lot for an individual to learn to appreciate others. Teach your child positive words like Good, Appreciate, Well done, Keep it up etc. When your child grows up to take a responsible chair in life, he would also use the same words with his sub-ordinates. 

2)     Pat in front of others: It is generally said that one should give a pat in front of others and scold in isolation. In ancient times kings used to arrange congregations or Darbaris for giving appreciation. But this appreciation was seldom done to the people who worked with them. These same tendencies have been inherited by our present generation. One needs to understand the psyche of the human being. Every person is hungry for appreciation. It is a type of M-factor (Motivating factor) which one seeks from his superiors. By listening to one word of appreciation, he gets charged and aligns his internal powers to achieve the object. Imagine the contrary. A person who is trying to contribute his best but in return gets scolded by superiors. Imagine what will happen. He will become rebellious as his superior is not able to appreciate his efforts. Of course it is important to mention here that the efforts he put in may not be aligned to the requirement of his superior. But nevertheless the employee still seeks appreciation. It is the psychology of a human being. Thus one needs to look for an opportunity to appreciate the employee. As soon as one finds an occasion, the appreciation should be given in front of others. This helps the employee to feel elated in front of others. This could be a momentary feeling of elation, but it motivates the person as it confirms the need of the person. According to hierarchy of needs as per Maslow, the need for recognition supersedes even motivation received through gratification by money.

 3)     Change your attitude: Appreciating others is nothing but change of attitude. It is like seeing a half glass of water. Is it half full or Half empty? Similarly are we looking for appreciation or deprecation? We are miserly in appreciating others as we have been groomed either to blame or to criticize others.  You can test this hypothesis by applying it on yourself. Watch your own actions. a)     How many times do you criticize?b)     How many times do you blame? c)     How many times do you appreciate?  Calculate your actions according to the following formula (c - a - b) and find out whether the result is positive or negative. If it is negative, you need to improve upon your actions. Note that it is 100 percent true to state that every individual has got some skill which can be appreciated. What is required is to identify that positive attribute which can be appreciated or exploited by the organization or family. 

 4)     Find moments to appreciate: One should find moments to appreciate others and see results. As you go through your day, whether it is shopping, driving talking to your family or employees, remember to appreciate, to be kind, to bless all you come in contact with.  To appreciate you must bless. You must offer your grandest, highest thought of well being and goodness. This is always followed with acts of kindness, which have the power to change the world. As explained above, it fosters flow of positive energy.    Lift up each person today with your highest thought, see the Divine within each, that spark of love and light that always burns within each created being.  Allow yourself to feel love and introduce appreciation and follow it with actions of kindness. 

5)     Appreciation has no cost: Appreciation costs nothing except a few words which one needs to use to convey it. In appreciation one should be verbose, not a man of few words.

 Readers can use these techniques and apply it in day to day life.  

Appreciation has Both Power and Freedom Feeling deeply grateful for people and conditions in your life, opens the floodgates for more of the same. It also lifts the countenance of all those around you.  There was a study done that showed that when acts of kindness were done the result is instantaneous. Both the giver and the receiver felt good at once. What is even more incredible is that the same thing happened to those who witnessed the act. When each of us dares to live a life where appreciation and kindness are standard every moment of the day, then we can change the world. And greater yet, in the process we will change ourselves. You will know when your feelings of appreciation are genuine by the gush of love and positive energy that suddenly flows through you and touches those around you. 

Appreciate each moment and each person with acts of kindness and lift the world to the highest place where love and joy reign.

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