Appreciation: Is it old fashioned or is it the key to our future?

Guest Blog by Susan Carson from Smart Leadership Coaching

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. I am seeing a resurgence of great money making programs – like small church initiatives or relationship development. All books and programs aiming to re-create or to re-empower or to reinvigorate programs. All programs based on human beings. The new words being “reinventing relationships”. The new magic cure for what ails the world. Like it is a brand new concept. That will create visions. That will bring people back into the churches and synagogues which have lost their central themes of being the real home for people. Or to make businesses work better. Or to retain employees. Or to make students want to learn more. Or to make people care more. All of this saddens me. I realized that while I was at a board meeting of a temple that I am a member of. People were talking about the purpose and the wisdom behind this new magical program to bring us together as Jews. At the same time I have a dear friend who is active in helping her church revive the smaller churches (and some of the bigger ones) and again its all about creating relationships. So what – does this have to do with appreciation? Well – I think all these initiatives – all these books and programs– treatises on relationships are really all about appreciation. And taken to the real basics it is like saying: Please and thank you to each other. I appreciate you. I care about you enough to want you to learn more. We want to keep you as a member of our business family. Yes, I can go back to the Bible and talk about treating your neighbor like you want to be treated. Maybe that is a good place to start. Because I hear people talk about this great new concept about relationships and engagement. But I still hear people forget to say thank you. I still hear people forget to say you are welcome. So for me it comes down to appreciation. We have forgotten the basics of being with each other. Yes, I agree when taken to a different level there will be the glue that holds certain people together. Be it a religious faith, or energies or wanting to learn or whatever. But if we forget what it is that makes us all human. What good will any of these programs do? Actually what is the reality of engagement or relationships? I still remember teaching my son to say thank you to the toll collectors – and to make sure he got their names to be included in the thank you. Some people call it gratitude. I call it appreciation. Recently, I proposed a fund raising/money saving way to a non-profit. The person making the decision was all about the bottom line, his main concern – his basic value. I can understand his reasoning. So my idea lost. That is okay. What hurt was, not hearing a please or thank you, but no thanks. That would have meant the world to me. Yes I would have been disappointed at not having my idea accepted, but I would have dealt with that. He has no clue about the basics. I don’t want to hear from a person like him all about relationships. For what are they talking about without showing respect for one another – for showing appreciation for who we are. Maybe a better example would be. Someone left our community recently. They moved to a different area for business. While they were here in our community however, they contributed so much – and I don’t mean just love, I mean love, caring, always being there – and most of all showing respect for others. I remember every time I saw her with someone there was that sense of respect – that appreciation for the other person. That is what I will miss about her. So when they were about to leave, one member of the community took the bull by the horns and scheduled a going away event for them. She wasn’t the closest to them. She wasn’t a “best friend” or “BFF” but she saw they needed a way for the community to say thank you. And she took it on herself to do it. In spite of being a busy person – a technical professional, wife, mother, etc. – she still took it on. And no one said thank you – even at the event – no one said thank you to her for what she did. I know some of you are thinking that you do things to do them and do them right and that is all the thanks you get. But be honest, it is not enough. We are talking about relationships. The basis of all growth and development. I suspect that is why she did what she did. For the right way to celebrate relationships. To show appreciation by a simple thank you – or by honoring others at an event. So don’t talk to me about these big in initiatives about relationships or engagement until you show me the basics. Just my two cents.

1 reply
  1. Russell Burck, PhD
    Russell Burck, PhD says:

    Nice article, Susan. It’s painful when someone does something, when we ourselves do something, and no one says thanks. No getting around it. It hurts or peeves or, well, fill in the blanks.

    As I read your post, I kept remembering doctors talking about “appreciating a heart murmur” or something like that. When I heard that us of appreciate, I translated it as “noticing.” And it occurred to me that there may be an inner connection between that use of appreciate and the stress of being “unappreciated.” I’m wondering whether the connection between the painful experiences you describe and doctors’ use of appreciate to mean notice is that people who do something and don’t get thanked, don’t feel noticed.


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