In Appreciation of Appreciation

Something out of the ordinary happens when dining out with my friend Bill. “Thanks for coming in today,” he’ll say to the server when they approach our table. They’ll give him a puzzled look and often reply, “Excuse me?”

He’ll repeat, “Thanks for coming in; for coming to work. I’m glad you’re here.”  At this point they either think he’s crazy, annoying, or the nicest guy they’ve seen all day. He’ll get his food, enjoy the meal, chat with them and at the end, thank them again for their service to him. In nearly all instances, they end their encounter with Bill happier than when they first met.

Taking a cue from Bill, very early one Sunday I approached the TSA agent at the Memphis airport, handed him my ID, scanned my boarding pass and said, “Thanks for getting up early and coming to work today so that I could fly safely home.”  He gave me the same puzzled look the servers give Bill, then smiled and said “You’re welcome. No one has ever said that to me before. I appreciate it.”  My response? “Well, I appreciate you.”

So why, you might wonder, express appreciation to someone for just doing their job? Why thank them for showing up – even before they’ve done anything to earn your gratitude? Here are a five reasons:

  • They might not hear it from anyone else. Ever. Including from their boss or co-workers. Yes, it’s their job. And yes, it’s what they’re paid to do. But for so many people, they spend more time at work than with their families. Sometimes it’s nice to have someone acknowledge that.
  • It tells them that what they do has value. If it didn’t why should they even bother showing up? Try offering a little appreciation to someone and see how they respond. It may change not only how they engage with you, but how they engage with everyone else they encounter that day.
  • It is motivating. It’s good to know that your contributions count. When someone sees you, and acknowledges that what you do is important, it can motivate you to do that job even better.
  • It’s not only good for them, but for you! In their article “10 Reasons You Need to Show Appreciation Daily,” David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom say that when you appreciate others, your mindset changes, your mood improves and you engage at a higher level, among other things.
  • It doesn’t cost you a thing, unless you’re counting the less than 60 seconds it takes to say it. And think of the ROI! A few words of appreciation from you could make someone feel like a million bucks!

In the last several years, I’ve noticed that more people are likely to complain than appreciate. Take a listen the next time you’re at a restaurant, waiting to board a flight, or watching your child’s soccer match. Do you hear complaints about the food, the weather delays, or the referees? Or do you hear expressions of appreciation for those who fix and serve the food, work to get you safely home in the face of situations beyond their control, or teach fair play to children who are learning a game? There is certainly a time and a place for expressing displeasure, but perhaps we might want to consider tipping the balance to the side of appreciation and see what happens.

So, let it start with me. First to my friend Bill. Thanks for showing me the value of appreciating the people that we encounter throughout our day – whether we know them or not. I appreciate and value your friendship and example.

And next, to you, for reading this blog and all other Wednesdays for Women blogs before it. We are approaching the one-year anniversary of the series; its popularity has exceeded my expectations. I appreciate the women who allowed us to tell their stories and to the men and women who contributed thought-provoking points of view. But most of all, thank you to everyone who has read or shared one of the blogs along the way. Please know that you, your readership and support are appreciated!

  31 Comments   Comment

  1. Mary Ketter

    Well, Beth you have inspired me! I will definitely “pass-it-on” and let the folks that I come into contact with (work and otherwise) that I do appreciate them! Thanks for the encouragement to do something I may not have thought of doing! Oh….I appreciate you and the time that you take to support our team and JDA.

  2. I LOVE this. Thank you for writing it 🙂 I appreciate the reminder to spread joy!
    Seriously, I have often found that it is uplifting for me as it is for the recipient of my unexpected gratitude. It can make the dullest of moment almost sparkly 🙂

  3. Beth Elkin

    Thank you, Michaela! You are absolutely right! I also think when the appreciation is unexpected or comes from an unlikely source, it’s even more uplifting. That’s why it’s fun to offer it to someone you don’t really know; it makes their day and yours!

  4. Beth Elkin

    Thank you, Mary! It’s so easy to show someone you appreciate them, and we get so caught up in the busyness of our days that we just don’t do it. I appreciate you reading the blog – and spreading a little kindness to friends and strangers alike!

  5. Amanda Dyson

    Beth, This is such a joyful post. I appreciate you and will do my part to show appreciation to others today. Thanks for the reminder! The Wednesdays for Women blog series continues to be an inspiration to me.

  6. Wayland G Fox

    What a great blog post today! I love reading the weekly posts – always a great learning experience – and today of course a reminder to be thankful and appreciative. Thanks Beth for starting this a year ago. I post it each week for the SIG Chairs, Managers and Officers and have heard some very positive comments from them as well. We appreciate everything you do!

  7. Beth Elkin

    Thanks for reading today’s post and your kind comments, Amanda. It’s been gratifying to see how often the Wednesdays for Women posts resonate with readers. We’ll work hard to keep that light shining!

  8. At the outset, thank you Beth for initiating the Wednesdays for Women blog and I want to let you know that I have not missed even a single blog and infact I started looking forward to Wednesday morning (I work from CoE India office) to read the blog and start my day or end my day…Please continue this forum as it gives us perspectives and makes us a better person, a better professional and a better co-worker. I just have a request in that, we may consider publishing men’s perspective on this topic which could be very insightful. I will write to you offline probably on this thought. Thank you !!!

  9. Beth Elkin

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Guru. I am delighted that you enjoy the blog. We definitely welcome POVs from a wide variety of writers – including our male colleagues. We’ve had a few throughout the year, but welcome more. I look forward to hearing more from you offline!

  10. Beth Elkin

    Thank you for your kind words and support of the blog, Wayland. I especially appreciate you sharing it with our customer community and on social channels. I like that the blogs show yet another side of JDA and some of the things that make the company special. #JDAProud

  11. Donna Gaspard

    What a wonderful post Beth! Always a great reminder to show our appreciation to others. I love to do this one – when at a restaurant and after finishing a meal, I will ask the server if I can speak to their manager. They get really nervous thinking that I am going to say something bad and I do the complete opposite. With the server standing with their manager, I thank them for hiring this person and share what great service they provided. It always catches the server off guard in a very fun way! ; )

  12. Thank you Beth, this is a great reminder that no matter how bad we may feel, showing appreciation for someone else will always lift our spirits!

  13. In appreciation of appreciation! What a caption for an inspiring message. I did realise sometimes when we do say time to say thank you, adding that element on what exactly that they did that made us feel grateful could make a huge difference from your friends and your example with TSA agent. Yet another lesson learnt through Wednesday’s for women! From an idea to inspiration, this has truly been an awesome journey for this blog series 😍! Thank you Beth and Jolene for taking this forward and making sure our Wednesdays feel enriched!

  14. Beth Elkin

    That’s a great idea, Donna! Thanks for sharing it. It is always fun to recognize someone to their manager — especially in the hospitality industry, when they’re likely hearing more complaints than compliments. I did the same thing once for someone at the DMV, which seems to always get a bad rap. I sent a letter to the state director recognizing an employee who had been particularly helpful to me and he was so happy to receive it that he wrote me back! He acknowledged that it didn’t happen very often and he was delighted to have a team member recognized in that way. He said he was going to recognize her further to her peers. That made it all worthwhile!

  15. Beth Elkin

    Thanks for reading and commenting, Hebe. Showing a kindness to someone else always makes me feel better. I just need to remember to do it, especially I myself am having a crummy day!

  16. Beth Elkin

    Thanks for your appreciation of the blog and the series, Mahima. I am grateful for your contributions to Wednesdays for Women as well. We look forward to sharing more great interviews and thought-provoking pieces in the weeks to come!

  17. Hello Beth – thanks for putting us back down to earth. There are so countless many things we take for granted! I could find thousand of examples. We find ourselves being over critical for so many things instead of being mindful. Thanks!

  18. Quentin Smelzer

    I’m new to JDA and this is the first WFW blog I’ve stumbled across, but what a great one! It’s endemic that we take what we have and what works for granted and focus only on what we don’t or what doesn’t. And, yes, maybe that’s one way things improve, but it’s also corrosive to the spirit of the ungrateful person and everyone they interact with. There are other way to relentlessly drive value, new learning and innovation, and genuine appreciation should be at the top of that list. Thank you for writing and posting this!

  19. Lisa Linkous

    Wow. This is great! I don’t always take time to read Yammer, but I am so glad I read this one! I have never thought of thanking someone before they do something, but it makes complete sense. I know that being nice does go a long way, and for me, when someone thanks me for helping or just doing a great job, I feel a sense of pride that does help to make my day. While I haven’t tried thanking someone before they do anything, I always make sure when I am at a public restroom, especially at the airport, if everything looks clean and the cleaning lady is in there working, I do thank her for what she does. (Note that I haven’t had a male restroom cleaner, or I would think him as well. 😊 ) I do think that is one of many thankless jobs, so I feel they need to know that they matter.
    Lastly, thank you Beth for all of the wonderful blogs you post and all you do!

  20. Beth Elkin

    I appreciate you reading and commenting, Claudia. We certainly do get caught up in the whirlwind of our work and when the day gets long and we get tired, we can more critical than grateful. I’m always reminding myself to have an attitude of gratitude, no matter how my day’s been!

  21. Beth Elkin

    Thank you for taking the time to read the blog and share your thoughts, Quentin. And welcome to JDA! We’re all human and some days it is easier than others to spread a little sunshine, but I truly believe that when we do, it positively impacts us as well. I appreciate that you have the same mindset!

  22. Beth Elkin

    I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on the blog, Lisa. I often look to boost up those in service industries as well – especially when they work in places like hospitals, airports, restaurants, retail at Christmas, you know – the places where people are often stressed, hurting, hungry and grumpy. Many times they are working in environments they can’t control and a friendly smile, encouragement or even acknowledgement of them can change their day. Thanks for the time you take to give them a boost!

  23. Beth Elkin

    I appreciate you reading and commenting, Anna. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  24. This is a great reminder to express gratitude for all that we have and say thank you to those for their part in making “it” happen (whatever it is). We are all in it together (this life) and everyone brings something unique to the table, it feels good to be able to understand and appreciate that.

  25. Beth Elkin

    We’re all in this together. What a great reminder you’ve given us, Marni! Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  26. What a great post this was such a great reminder of the impact such simple things can have on not only the individual but yourself too. I love Donna’s thoughts too in bringing over a Manager to show great service, this will only breed even better service. What great examples of appreciation. This was a great Wednesday for Women, thank you for taking the time to do this to help all of us and make such an impact.

  27. Helene Tapper

    Thank you for reminding me and the rest of JDA, how much it means when we say thank you to others. How important it is to ask how someone is doing. How their trip was. All of those things show an interest in our team mates that are not just work oriented. Very important, in my humble opinion.

  28. Aida DeJonghe

    Gratitude and appreciation has been on my mind a lot in the past few weeks. This post is perfect in timing. Thank you for writing this, Beth. Great nuggets of wisdom to take forward in my every day interactions.

  29. Nice Read and yes a great message to take back! Thank you, Beth.

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