4 Things to Do When You Feel Unappreciated
It’s a cruel, cruel world. Most of the appreciation you receive in life happens when you’re young and incompetent or after you’re dead. In between, you have a measure of competence and you’re expected to get busy using it.
Expectation ends gratitude.
People aren’t grateful for what they expect. There comes a point when you’re expected to keep your shoes tied, food off your face, and your pants zipped up.
Gratitude is limited to first accomplishments. After that, success is expected.
Parents go nuts when their children learn to use the potty. I don’t blame them. But, there comes a point when no one is excited that you can use the toilet on your own.
The cruel truth:
Everyone who deeply invests in an organization, project, or person has felt under-appreciated. No one understands the amount of energy you’re expending or the full weight of the load you carry.
To make matters worse, competence is taken for granted.
Feelings of under-appreciation turn into self-defeating anger, self-pity, bitterness, and foot-dragging.
Dealing with under-appreciation:
- Invite trusted friends to share their success. Share yours. Create environments where bragging is OK, once in a while.
- Work hard because of who you are.
- Express appreciation when you receive appreciation.
- Value your work like you hope others will. Don’t say, “It was nothing.”
Be grateful for the opportunity to serve.
Someone on your team feels unappreciated.
Unappreciated people, under-perform.
- Give back-handed complements. Ask, “How can you bring your talent to this situation?”
- Honor competence. “One of the things I admire about you is ________.”
- Focus on giving appreciation, not receiving it.
- Gratitude reinforces behaviors. If you want more of something, show gratitude for it.
- Keep pressing into the future. Gratitude doesn’t create complacency when you press toward new goals.
- Give hit-and-run expressions of gratitude.
What strategies address issues of under-appreciation?
How have you shown appreciation, in the last 24 hours, to key people you work with?
I hope my earlier email to you is taken in this spirit of appreciation 🙂
Good stuff. I know I use these tactics more than most already at work, but not enough at home with my wife.
I strategically use our internal social tool (SFDC Chatter) to express gratitude for all different types of activities I see others doing from internal events to new employee training initiatives. We have to remember that it doesn’t matter where you sit in the organization, we always have the power to take a few minutes and make someone feel noticed and appreciated. You don’t have even to be in the same org or team.
Thanks James. The expression, “make someone feel noticed,” grips me. Thank you.
I fixed a typo in your comment. Did I do it right?
That works! Thanks.
Good morning Dan
No one is ever to old or to young to appreciate a sincere compliment. Irregardless of your position on the ladder of sucsess, a sincere ‘atta-boy’ is never wasted effort. Every human being has a desire to feel needed. When leaders forget the importance of recognizing performance, performance drops. Sometimes dramatically. If leadership is determined to point out deficiancies in their employees they had better use the same ‘gusto’ to point out positive behavior. Inspiring your employees is not a hard thing to do, but ingnoring these opportunity cause disengagement and disatisfaction. Once employees reach this point, it is at times hard to bring them back. “Even the good ones”!!!
Thanks Steve. “Every human being has a desire to feel needed.” KaPow! I never thought of gratitude as a way of letting others know they are needed.
Once again, Dan, one of your best.
If you’re typically looking for compliments from your “leader”, forget it.
All I know is that there are two primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.
I like changing them and aiming high.
Don’t get me wrong…………..I love compliments when they are sincere.
But they’re like finding needles in the proverbial haystack.
Thanks David. Love the challenge of changing how things are vs. just accepting them. That’s leadership.
Any comment with the word “proverbial” in it, rocks. 🙂
I think the key here is sincerity. I worked for a leader once who frequent gave out compliments in public but then turned around told you what a failure you were. I had lots of public appreciation but there was no value in it because there was no sincerity in what was being told. Even simple things like saying “thank you” for doing what you do every day is so powerful in helping others feel appreciated as long as it is sincere.
Isn’t it sad when a leader thinks he’s fool’n everybody by by giving compliments ‘only’ in public. Insenserity where compliments are concerned are more destructive than no compliment at all. When a leader does this he loses credability and the trust of their people. Once trust is lost, moral, production, employee and customer satisfaction plummit’s.
“Great post Carrie”
Thanks Carrie. That’s the truth. Of all the things we might try to fake, gratitude must be the hardest! If we don’t mean it, it doesn’t mean anything. Actually, it does damage rather than good.
Nothing makes you feel more unappreciated & undervalued than fake appreciation.
ThXs Dan, this is great
A wonderful way of showing that we may not be able to affect every outcome of things that happen in our lives, but we may be able to affect the effect ( 🙂 ) that outcome has. I can almost hear the dialogue, “I know this project wasn’t successful, but I would like to thank you for all the effort you put into it.” “Wow, thanks!” Appreciation and encouragement helps to build confidence. Confidence allows us to shed our fears and let out skills and talents shine through.
Thanks J. I’m a huge fan of thanking people for their effort even if it doesn’t work out. Powerful idea.
Glad you connected gratitude with confidence. People with confidence get more done than those who lack confidence.
I learned this wonderful thought of appreciating others from one of my grandmother. I got to know the truth that all our hearts are longing for just one such gentle tap on our shoulders like “Nice work, buddy!”, “Way to go, dude!”.
Thanks veniram…. Nothing like a real person doing something they really mean to change our lives!
In a world of e-this and e-that, I have found a handwritten note of thanks (or encouragement,etc.) is golden. I have met people who pulled out a note I had written years before and said “Do you have any idea how this… ” (and I of course had no idea) Its a great investment.
Thanks Ken. Timely addition to the conversation.
Thanks Ken. That note shouts SINCERITY. “It’s often the small things we do that leave the biggest lasting impressions.”
I appreciated this read, Dan. It is very timely for me.
Thanks Paula. Great seeing you drop in today.
Well put indeed…
Dan, I admit that I’m not following the idea of the back-handed complements. Is that like a very positive way to say “I need you to bring your A game to this task”?
I had to stop on that part too. It helped when I thought what back handed insult meant. Basically a ‘back handed compliment’ would be a positive remark somewhat hidden (though not too subtlely) in a remark seemed to serve a different purpose initially.
So I might say, “I could really use your keen insight for word choice to trim this message down and hit all the right notes.” I’m looking for help but I’m highlighting your choice skills that I recognize openly.
Thanx for the explanation
This is a hard lesson to learn.
From the perspective of the leader, as your post suggests, we should be aware that without giving some positive feedback, we’re likely to end up with underperforming, unhappy employees which will eventually lead to an underperforming team/company. Most people need that “pat on the back” when a job has been well-done and, rightly so, I might add. After all, it’s likely that the whole team/company will benefit from the hard work! (The leader will Expect more, get less.)
From the perspective of the individual, however, it’s a better idea not to expect the “pat on the back.” The job well-done should be well done only due to integrity and pride in one’s own work. An act of appreciation from outside yourself should be a welcome surprise. (The individual will Expect less, get more!)
As always, thank you for the thought provoking insight! : )
I just had to pipe in and say I concur Dan:
‘I reject the universal idea that we create reality with our words. Certainly, the things we say impact us and those around us. But, there is a reality that exists apart from and above anything we say. Words, beliefs, and attitudes change some things but they don’t change everything.’
If the above ideas were true, then all abused children in the world are directly responsible for the abuse of the adults. All starving people are directly responsible for being born into poverty, etc
Some of those beliefs are very dangerous…’The Secret’ has run amuck in leading far too many people astray…
Just had to pipe in on that part….
I understand SP.
I was primarily speaking to Dan regarding his comment. I wholeheartedly agree with it BECAUSE beliefs circulated stemming from The Secret and similar teachings have been sending the wrong message to people. In general.
My comment was not a direct aim at anything you said.
Given that Dan is familiar with some of my background, I’m almost certain he understands why I piped up on that comment.
That’s why it was addressed to Dan. : )
I work for a family owned business who are operational people. As a manager of my 15 accounting staff members, it is very hard to communicate to the owner how the accounting department feels about themselves where their efforts are not recognized; compensation is not at par, no appreciation and decreasing motivation causing the department to perform at their minimum efforts. As a manager, it is very hard to make these operational owners understand the value of my department.
Any help in how to take this to the owners is highly welcomed. How do I make them listen to me?
This is a wonderful thing to be aware of and to recognize there is something to be done about feeling unappreciated. I try so hard to be appreciative and when others don’t seem to feel the same way back I definitely get the dragging of foot symptom. This is a really good way to conceptualize the feeling and admit it happens.
Giving appreciation has its rewards. This past year, I remodeled my home. I made it a point, every day, to come in and notice more things that were right than had been done wrong (fortunately the contractor was terrific, and that made it an easy discipline.) I did it because in a remodel 20 years ago, I became overwhelmed by the problems. This time I was determined to focus on what was going well, instead of having a meltdown.
Note – I wasn’t gushing over stuff, I just said things like “Good job with that light fixture – it’s exactly where I wanted it.”
At the end of the 5 month job, the contractor told me that he’d never had a client like me. “We have never had a client say ‘thank you’ or ‘good job’ – they just complain and try to get changes for free,” he said. “My people loved working here.”
Funny part was, I felt the same way. I felt better about my house, knowing that a bunch of great people had been working on it.
Now, they WERE a bunch of great people. I don’t get credit for that. But a few “thank you’s” and “great jobs” went a long way to keep us in a collaborative, rather than an adversarial mindset.
Great point with gratitude being limited to first accomplishments and even better analogy. I wonder if some team member realize this and don’t put forth full effort resulting in less expected success?
I found this post very helpful on a personal level. Thank you for writing it. You helped someone!
Dan, Your toilet training analogy, expectation ends gratitude, took me a little further… As a parent of an only child, I have little to compare to those hero moms and dads, challenged with going “nuts” after child number 10, uses the potty. Also, I had it easy, thank God, when I put the toilet training seat on the ground, she pulled down here diaper and did her business. Of course, I went nuts, because she was so young, and we had less than a handful of accidents afterward. Expectation was not even present, so naturally my grace was elated. She sat her own bar, that despite her older cousins, friends at school, and family members, innately she knew where her business was, even if others were not up to par, or expected less of her. At some point, say the 3rd accident, the gratitutude had turned to expectation, on the part of parent and child. Not just expectation to perform, but expectation not to fail. Did we clap and do the potty dance after each success or turn to silence and scoffing, upon failure? Of course not, but we did so after each success following failure. What did we do with failure? We reinforced previous success. Not because I needed to reassure myself, I have a brilliant child, but she was disappointed in herself. Was I unappreciative for her accidents, set-backs? Of course not. Did we have to call Mimi a time or two for reenforcing backup encouragement? Sure we did. Did we have to talk about our own success and failures, those of others, and how easy it is to try again, even if you fail again? You bet, but that is what we do with children. We have patience, humility, and tolerance, especially our first time around. So what happens to our grace, once we have set the bar of expectation? Let’s say, God willing, I have a second child, and he/she does not use the toilet until twice the age of my daughter, has more accidents through elementary school, and the bar is set much lower. Will this child feel unappreciated, if Mom does not explore different avenues of reinforcing positive behavior? A no brainier right??? But is it really? When we apply the same mythology to under appreciation in our adult lives and in the workplace, we are reminded of the many factors that equate to team success and failure, standards and performance, individual development, and interplay of factors between personal, professional, and neuro/environmental issues, that impact our own lives, thus influencing others. So perhaps this furthers your point in a couple ways. Super mom and super dad, having a team of toilet trainers, we presume, loving their children equally, they will not lose excitement, gracious momentum, each time a child uses the potty, for the first time, but what do we presume about their tolerance for success and failure, expectation for each child, as years go by? As parents, leaders, do we take Grace for granted, or do we adjust our expectations accordingly, so that we may give and receive Grace to promote growth, while fostering and nourishing greatness? Do we treat our team, as our baby, responsible and rewarded by seeing that their successes are a reflection of healthy interaction and reaction of our team?
Ironically, a not-so-nice person, repeatedly told me, “thoughts are things,” and while I agree, we have a choice to find value in those things that encourage us to think. Fortunately, we can be deliberate in choosing whether or not and how much time, we spend evaluating critisms, good and bad. Surrounding ourselves with those we trust to provide constructive critism, those with similar value systems, and those that wish to see us succeed, is paramount to maximizing our potential, lest we seldom, if ever, feel unappreciated.
Appreciation really is an underused resource. What are we saving it for? I believe that there are events that we don’t bring about by our thinking or our words as Samantha says, but I also agree with effectivenessactivator that we have a choice as how to respond to and what power we give those events. Otherwise X event would always bring about Y result and that isn’t the case. I don’t create reality. I do create my owns stories about reality and live in them.
Hit the nail on the head Sir… thanks
Very nice article. It brought to mind two instances early in my career as good examples of how leaders can show appreciation with minimal investment.
1) The boss took employees, individually, to lunch. This one-on-one time allowed her to gauge the employees’ vision of themselves and their role in the company, to hear their questions and concerns, and to strategically impart her view, one that I think is quite true (if not self-serving for her/the company): “More than anything, including pay and perks, employees want to feel appreciated–that they have a voice; that their opinion matters; that they have value.”
2) A manager made up sticky notepads with the acronym of the company–WTGY (Wilson, Tyler, Young, Garfield)–so that each initial spelled out We Think You’re Great! Then it had a place to jot down the great thing they think you did. It was a great way for quick, positive feedback. Not only did it improve morale, but it also improved communications between people, departments, and organizational hierarchy…for pennies!
Back handed compliment:
If taken literally, it would mean an “insincere compliment” but in this case the meaning has drifted further, to mean a compliment that is actually an insult. Sometimes, a backhanded compliment may be inadvertent. However, the term usually is an intent to belittle or condescend.