The Importance of Appreciation

Would it surprise you to know that the top two complaints at work are also the top two complaints at home?  When working with businesses, it will not take a lot of time before you will discover that the lack of good communication is the number one complaint by employees.  I also work with a lot of couples, and likewise the number one thing they want to address is the improvement of their communication.  For a recent blogpost on communication, you can click here.  

Once communication gets addressed, the next universal complaint is that a showing of appreciation, or giving thanks, is oftentimes lacking.  The single highest driver of engagement, in the workplace or at home, is whether or not people feel that others are genuinely interested in their wellbeing.  In businesses, appreciation creates the feelings of security (commitment) within the employee, which gives them the safety to do their best work, and the belief (trust) that they can move up the corporate ladder if they so desire because they are identified for the work they do.  In relationships it follows a slightly different playbook, yet is an important cog in building trust (belief) and commitment (security) that builds a lifelong foundation for the relationship.  

When studying workplace environments and early childhood development, one commonality among them is that positivity breeds positivity while negativity breeds negativity.  Positive reinforcement is a stronger behavior modifier than any type of punishment or threat.  The quickest and most efficient way to breed positivity in your relationship at work or at home is to focus on the positive and share your appreciation for it.  

This holiday season, as we remember the things we are thankful for and the one’s we are with, show some appreciation to your coworkers and family.  This is called the Positive Sentiment Override (PSO).  The Gottman Institute has found that in healthy, happy marriages, the PSO is a ratio of 20:1 positive statements to negative; in unhealthy, unhappy marriage, the PSO is a ratio of almost 1:1.  That’s a drastic difference!  Similar studies have been done in the workplace.  Researcher Marcial Losada has found that among high-performing teams, the expression of positive feedback (or PSO) outweighs that of negative feedback by a ratio of 5.6 to 1.  In low-performing teams, that ratio becomes a negative floor level of .36 to 1.  People are people, and there seems to be an anthropological wiring where they need more signs of appreciation to do their best work; whether in the workplace or at home.    

Showing appreciation might be a “muscle” that you haven’t used much in the past, especially in the workplace, so it might feel awkward at first; but like all muscles, you can develop it over time to feel natural and normal.  

Four easy things you can do to show appreciation:

  1. Notice their basic contributions and let them know you noticed.
  2. Say “thank you” both publicly and privately.
  3. Ask for their input and contribution to decisions that need to be made.
  4. Share with them mistakes and lessons you learned the hard way.

Have you been a part of the solution to making your relationships and cultures better, or part of the problem?  How have you shown your appreciation for those around you?