People thrive on appreciation at work.
It’s not simply that they want a thank you for the time, talent, and effort they put into their work. Expressing appreciation demonstrates civility.
Appreciation communicates an awareness of others. It acknowledges their contribution to a shared project. It builds community.
Appreciation builds community by strengthening ties among people.
When reflecting on a group project, it’s easy to recall your own contributions. Recalling what others contribute requires a bit more effort. It means being aware of what they’re doing. A general purpose, “heck of a job,” to colleagues is better than doing nothing but specific comments on an individual’s contribution goes so much further.
People are keenly aware of their distinct qualities. When others show that they recognize and cherish those distinct qualities, it feels good. That kind of recognition builds a link between people that can serve as the basis for a meaningful relationship.
Another important point is that appreciation is not simply the boss’s job. In many ways, expression of appreciation from colleagues can be more meaningful. Colleagues know more about the specifics of the project.
What To Do
Pay Attention. The foundation for civility is awareness of others. The most basic awareness is being sufficiently aware that you don’t step on someone’s foot.
Attend. After awareness, it takes time and attention to figure out what another person is about. It means getting beyond the idea that everyone has the same basic needs and hopes to understanding what this individual cares about. It’s about values.
Acknowledge. Having refined your awareness, the critical step is doing something. That means putting into words and actions. You can judge whether doing so is most effective as a private conversation or a more public event, but the point that matters is going beyond awareness to expressing appreciation.