I was reading through Gary Chapman and Paul White’s book, The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace and had one of those “aha moments.” It’s the feeling I had when I first learned that being an introvert was a good thing and not some sort of mental illness (don’t believe me, read The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney).
Anyway, Chapman and White really nailed it in their new book. Beginning with the premise that “each of us wants to know that what we are doing matters,” they lay out an argument that “the number one factor in job satisfaction is not the amount of pay but whether or nor the individual feels appreciated and valued for the work they do.”
Understanding that fact was the easy part. Knowing how and when to show that appreciation was the hard part. The answer to the first half of the question of “how” is found, not in the Golden Rule of “do unto others as you would have then do unto you,” but in the Platinum Rule of “do unto others as they would have you do unto them.” The 5 Languages of Appreciation helps you discover what that is.
What I found most valuable was learning about my own “appreciation language.” I guess I just never really thought about it much. I had never really looked at what I needed to feel appreciate, and I had never communicated that to the people whose opinions I value most. In fact, there are time I was communicating the wrong thing. Now you will just have to go get the book and take the (MBA) inventory yourself to find your “languages,” but for me, it was a real eye opener.
The book not only speaks to the “how” of appreciation, but also to the “when,” and it is not just when someone does something great. I have found that sometimes I need appreciation most at those times when things are at their worst. When things are going well, I know it and I can appreciate it even if there is no one there to see it happen. But when things go wrong, or I am sick, or tired, or just sick and tired, I need someone to remind me that I matter.
I see appreciation as something we need when we are doing the right thing and doing it well. I see acceptance (or unconditional love) as something we need when things are falling apart. We all need both, but for me, acceptance is the hardest to make happen on your own. It requires a relationship, a friendship, a companion.
The question then becomes, “What am I doing to build those types of friendships that will carry me through the tough times?” “Am I an unconditional friend, or do I always expect something in return?” If every relationship, every action is based on what is in it for me, all I have is a deal. You do something nice for me and then I’ll do something nice for you. Acceptance and appreciation must be built on more than just a deal.