Posted by Tracy Letzerich on  March 8, 2012

It doesn’t matter whether your office is a boardroom, classroom, or laundry room. There are people who do things for you every day. Employees, colleagues, and family are expected to do their part. Do they know that you appreciate them?

It was a typical Monday, and I was about to churn out a business-like email to my husband. Have you heard back from the tax guy? Don’t forget the teacher-parent conference on Thursday. Oh, and the neighbors are irritated because you put the recycle bin out on the wrong day.

In the middle of composing this gem of gentle reminders, a terrible realization came over me: I send a similar email to my husband every Monday. Imagine his excitement when my name appears in his inbox! I began to wonder. Does he know how much I appreciate him?

I deleted my nagging email and wrote this instead:

A few important things:

  1. Thank you for working hard each day for our family.
  2. Thank you for loving me even when I don’t deserve it.
  3. Thank you for folding laundry.
  4. Thank you for moving us back to Texas.
  5. Thank you for encouraging us to eat healthy in the New Year.
  6. Thank you for reading to the kids at night. You’re the best dad in the world.
  7. Thank you for cleaning out the garage last weekend.
  8. Thank you for making me laugh.
  9. Thank you for taking our son to school in the mornings. It helps me so much.
  10. Thank you for choosing the scary movie that gave me nightmares last weekend (had to sneak that one in there). Prepare for a chick flick.

No big deal, right? Wrong! The lasting effect this message had on my husband’s day was exponentially longer than the amount of time it took me to write it. He didn’t arrive home depleted and exhausted from the stress of the day. He had a spring in his step. He felt appreciated.

Appreciation is powerful. Apply it to your relationships in these practical ways:

  • Boost morale by celebrating success. In the mentoring I do, I often hear executives express frustration with their team’s performance and morale. My first question: “What is your team doing well?” Surely they’re good at something. It’s quite possible they don’t feel appreciated for the things they’re expected to do, so why should they go the extra mile? Acknowledge the work they put into the daily grind. Celebrate small victories.
  • Use appreciation as a motivational tool. When I taught middle school, I learned that acknowledging my students’ efforts, no matter how small, was a great motivator. This is especially effective with low performers. Johnny was a mess of a math student. He used pen. He rarely completed his homework. The correct answers eluded him. So when he started to meet two basic expectations, I jumped at the chance to write, “Thank you for using pencil! I also noticed that you attempted each problem. What a great way to learn!”
  • Publicly acknowledge individual contributors. At the beginning of class each day, we had a routine. My students were expected to work quietly on a warm-up problem. Sounds simple enough. But getting a room full of 13-year-olds to do this some days felt more like herding cats. “I see that Katie and Davis have their homework out and they’ve already completed the warm-up. We’re going to have a great class today!” Acknowledging people in front of their peers does two things. It gives recognition to those doing what’s expected and it nudges those needing to change their behavior.

Want to see ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things? Show appreciation for what they already do, and report back on the results. Imagine the impact you can have on someone simply by recognizing their value.