The Win-Win Benefit of Expressing Appreciation
I don't know if it's worse today than in the past, but people seem far more ready to pounce on others for a perceived transgression than to express appreciation for a job well done. Actually, this situation probably is worse today, considering a good deal of that pouncing takes place online, where the pouncer can maintain a safe distance from the “pouncee.”
By contrast, people much less often praise others or express appreciation. And when they do, it's typically for major accomplishments, overlooking or ignoring the little, day-to-day things, such as a small favor, a helping hand, or unrequested support.
Fortunately, there are some people who readily compliment others for doing a nice job. They offer kudos for clever ideas. They acknowledge good service. Sometimes, they even bake brownies, a sweet form of appreciation. These people understand the uplifting impact of a pat on the back (or tasty treat).
One way to raise awareness of the power of a kind word is to model how to deliver one. Using a few simple words, such as “Thank you” or “You’re the best,” or perhaps responding with something a little more elaborate, can set a good example.
The intriguing thing is what a win-win experience it is to let others know you appreciate their efforts. I came to realize this on a flight when I heard several passengers muttering complaints. I became curious how often passengers acknowledged things that went well, so near end of the flight, I asked a flight attendant how often people complimented her on her service.
Her reply: “I'm a professional. I know my job. I don't need to hear passengers compliment me to know I'm doing a good job.”
Translation: “Compliments? Are you kidding?”
I told her I appreciated her service, and I especially liked the way she responded with both information and humor when two people inquired about their connecting flights.
I then asked how many passengers ever offered this sort of appreciation. “Let's see,” she responded, “there are 141 passengers on this flight, so"—she pretended to write some calculations in the air—"that makes one out of 141.” I asked her, “How was it for you to hear what I just said?”
Her response: “You made my day.” She was beaming.
She may not have needed a compliment to know she was doing a good job, but she certainly didn't mind hearing one. Although my intention had been to make her feel good, what surprised me was how good her reaction made me feel.
It doesn't have to be that way. Once you decide to offer caring comments whenever you can, opportunities to do so seem to appear everywhere. And each time you give, both of you receive.