Solution Saturday: Unappreciated and Disrespected
Thanks for reading my email.
I volunteered to help at an event where the industry leaders who ran it had been paid well.
They spent the day socializing while another volunteer and myself did all the hard work.
Turns out they hadn’t planned the event well so we had lots of problems caused by them that we had to fix on the hoof.
Now, they’re putting out pictures of the event saying how amazing it was and not referencing all those who also played a part – and all their friends and contacts are lapping it up and congratulating them.
It’s not right and very frustrating. I’d love those people to know what really went on but I don’t want to stoop to the event organizer’s level. Any advice?
Congratulations for volunteering. It stings to feel unappreciated and unrecognized.
Your email is a heads up to all leaders.
Appreciation and recognition don’t require money or lots of time.
Just being included in some images and a public thank you would transform a downer into a rewarding experience. A few suggestions follow.
Serve because it’s who you are, not for what you receive from others.
You don’t get ahead by tearing others down. (There are some exceptions to this, skillful backstabbers and politicians may get ahead for tearing others down at least for awhile.)
You served them well. Pat yourself on the back for contributing to their success.
Do things that make you proud, even if others don’t appreciate it.
The tough suggestion I have is let it go. You were unappreciated. Wash your hands of the past. Tell yourself the truth.
“I gave them my best and they didn’t appreciate it. I’m moving on.”
When hurt feelings return, let it go again.
You might go privately to the organizers and tell them you feel disrespected and unappreciated. It takes courage and vulnerability to stand up for yourself, but it’s a good thing.
Avoid accusations. Speak the truth. “I feel disrespected because I wasn’t included in the after-images of the event.”
You might ask the organizers to write you a recommendation. Take a few pictures with the leaders and post them on social media.
Publicize the event where you volunteered and celebrate your involvement. You did a good thing. Don’t let bad feelings rob you of this opportunity.
You might say, “It was a privilege to serve the attendees of xyz event.”
Reflect on what you learned about running events. You’re better equipped to run a great event today. You’ll recognize volunteers and organize events better.
In the future, serve people who appreciate you. Focus on them, not jerks. Life shrinks when jerks become the reason you pull back.
If you are inclined to volunteer for this event again, take your own pictures. Publicize the event and celebrate your involvement on your own social media channels.
Thanks for your email.
You have my best,
What suggestions do you have for frustrated?
*I suspend my 300 word limit on Solution Saturday.
Great advice. Forgiveness frees you from the anchor of resentment. However you also provided some opportunities to gain appreciation or benefits from the work.
But my favorite line is, “Serve because it’s who you are, not for what you receive from others.”
Than Jen. I think we’ve all had to live those ideas. Sometimes it’s much more difficult than we might expect. It seems that describing the noble path and living the noble path are two different things.
Very well said. Thanks.
Volunteer is defined as “a person who does something, esp. for other people or for an organization, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it:”
Did you volunteer to help the speakers or the attendees?
Hey Bob. You might notice that in my reply, I suggested that the focus be on attendees. Maybe it’s a bit easier to let go of the disappointment if we focus on the service itself.
I’ve found that serving for the sake of serving is it’s own reward. When it stops being fulfilling, do something else.
I also notice that recognition of competence fuels energy. “You were great at welcoming attendees. Or, great job problem solving.” Although, we might not volunteer for acknowledgement, receiving a little fuels energy.
Excellent post. Many of us have been there; yet, it is always good to have a refresher on proven tools that help get back on track. Thanks again, Dan, for more wise words.
Thanks Cynthia. Yes. we all need refresher. I find it’s good to be humbled from time to time, even though I don’t particularly enjoy it.
I think what “Frustrated” has felt is one of the ways potential leaders are neutralized .. feeling unappreciated they just stop trying.. I believe these words are very valuable
“Serve because it’s who you are, not for what you receive from others.”
Thank you Dan.
Thanks Ken. I had a conversation yesterday on this topic with a leader. What do you do when others don’t respond the way you expect? You reach down inside and act in ways that express who you are. It doesn’t matter what others do.
Of course things go easier if others are appreciative and respectful.
I really like your idea about summarizing the contributions made that day (in a non-judgmental way), and then presenting it to the leaders with whom we worked, asking them for a referral. I especially love the idea of starting with that statement. “I was proud to serve the attendees and participate with you at XYZ event.”
I think the next statement could be (again, in the non-judgmental vein) “I (or colleague X and I) observed several opportunities prepare better in the future, and were able to make several adjustments as we worked during the event. I’d be glad to share those ideas and adjustments with you at your convenience. I have found this work to be rewarding. I’d like to pursue more opportunities like this where I can support the planning and the receive recognition for the event going forward. I would appreciate a referral from you or some pointers on how to make this a reality going forward.” Or something like that. No blame. Just the facts…
The big fact is, sometimes, poor planners don’t know: a) what to do to make something happen, even if they are responsible for it, and b) how things happened to align to create a successful event, or project. I am speaking from both ends of this equation: I’ve planned poorly and I have bailed out teams of poor planners — without credit. Sometimes people are just not aware that they haven’t included you or that you contributed what you did.
Brilliant Stephanie. You jumped on these ideas and took it to a new place. Very helpful.
I like the sense of compassion I feel in your words. Maybe they don’t know that they are poor planners.
Very good advice!
Let it go… if we would follow this amazingly simple statement we would be so much more happy, less stressed and be better leaders, volunteers and overall better people.
Thanks for those 3 powerful words.
Thanks Nancy. I find that simply opening my hands rather than clenching my fists is a simple reminder to let things go. If you can’t control it, let it go. If you don’t plan to do something about it, let it go.
How common is this dilemma. Somebody else toils, and someone else takes the credit. Belonging to a colonial nation, I believe this phenomenon evolved from the way British run their governments!
Hi Kanwar. I think, in some circles, it’s pretty common. Overall, the best strategy is to keep bringing your best, even if you’re under-appreciated.
‘Life shrinks when jerks are the reason you pull back’. Thankyou!. I so needed to read this today. If someone criticises you, make sure you value their opinion first, otherwise you are always judging yourself by some idiots standards. Most recently I am reading that people seem to be saying ‘turn the other cheek’, but on a personal level, sometimes I know I just can’t. To me, a sincere thankyou is worth more than a world of publicity, but then I’m not in the advertising business.
Thanks Robynne. Pulling back is a form of self-sabotage, even if it feels like self-protection. We are more likely to get ahead if we bring our best, regardless of the appreciation.
Right on, regarding the critic that doesn’t matter. Don’t run your life by critics. However, negative feedback that is designed for our benefit is invaluable.
The lesson I would take is to align yourself with people who share the same values and together you become an unstoppable force.
Thanks Carolyn. You echo the sentiment of Adam Grant in his book Give and Take. Be generous, but don’t be a doormat to self-centered takers.
Outstanding feedback Dan! Thank you. There are times in all of our lives where we won’t get or feel the recognition or thanks we believe we deserve but it can’t stop us from stepping in and doing what we know is right or being our best selves. I love your advise to move on when it (disrespect or non-recognition) happens. AND when it happens again. I was just speaking today with a colleague about how we must all choose what we put in our cart and taking offense at another person’s actions (or inaction) is something I choose to leave on the shelf. Frustrated, you did a good thing! Do it again!
Hi Kate. Love the imagery of putting things in our cart. What’s the point of pulling unnecessary weight. Think of the feeling of lightness when we cut some of that stuff lose.
Perhaps the expectation of appreciation is a double edged sword. I think appreciation is important. However, expecting it might hold us back.
Your blog could be named FelicityFreak. So often you take tough day-to-day situations, and show how one can perceive matters in a healthier manner and methodically respond to not only help yourself, but those involved.
Thanks for this and all of your wonderful posts.