Last week I facilitated a workshop to help a management team examine its functioning and consider some ways to improve. It was a real pleasure to work with this team. The conversation was rich, all participants contributed actively, and the session set a useful platform for the team to grow together.
The next day, as I was working at my desk, I received an unexpected surprise, in the form of a handwritten message from the manager of the area. This message conveyed thanks to me for the role I played as facilitator, and indicated that the style I used was just right for this particular team.
This small gesture of appreciation really made my day. It strengthened my sense that I had made a difference to this particular team, it bolstered the faith I have in my ability to effectively facilitate groups, and it made me feel really good overall about my work and myself. It also further increased the positive impression I already held about the manager and the team as a whole. What a large result from something that would have taken just a few minutes of the sender’s time!
Whether you’re a manager, a peer or a client there are plenty of options for showing small gestures of appreciation to others in the workplace. Hand written notes like the one I received are especially great because they really stand out in a world where so little is written by hand. Verbal thanks can also work well, whether expressed in private or among others. Email can also be good, all the more so so if you copy the person’s manager into the message. Whichever method make sure the feedback is sincere, that you give it as soon as possible after you’ve witnessed the behaviour, and that you make your feedback specific.
If you form the habit of showing small gestures of appreciation regularly it’s almost certain that the people around you will feel better about themselves and will be spurred on to even better contributions. Your relationships with them are also likely to be enhanced. As if all of this isn’t reason enough, there is plenty of evidence that the act of expressing appreciation also gives the sender a considerable happiness lift.
It’s all too easy to get into the pattern of picking people up for doing the wrong thing. Try, instead, to notice when people do things well and when you do take the time to display small gestures of appreciation. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results this brings for the other person and for you.