Perhaps to appreciate is an attitude, born out of Divine blessing. Appreciation can be about ownself or about others. While we can learn to appreciate others, it is rare for a little self-indulgence to appreciating ownself. We never seriously ponder to appreciate the many splendid unique blessings of what the Creator has bestowed upon each of us, differently and abundantly. In this piece, I will restrict myself to writing about appreciating others (colleagues, friends, family) to evoke their best performance, in whatever vocation, they may be in pursuit of. Appreciating ownself, in some later piece.
Wisdom demands that all men should be appreciated. Wise men find and see the good in every person. They also value the efforts that go to build up goodness around us.
Appreciation is the most acceptable and exquisite form of courtesy and recognition. We have to learn to defy a generally accepted English proverb, “Gratefulness is the poor man’s payment”. Nay. To appreciate is to give. Whilst, admittedly the most difficult task is to alter the instinctive nature of living beings, but even an effort can be made to place a frog on the throne, and prevent it from jumping off it, at the first sight of a puddle. Indeed with a conscious effort, we can alter our natural responses too.
Remorse or regret can never be profitable; but appreciation can be. Appreciate not to seek greater benefaction but for its purity. Rabindranath Tagore, writes, “Bees sip honey from flowers and hum their thanks when they leave. The gaudy butterfly is sure that flowers owe thanks to him.”
At school and even university, a recognition by the teacher / professor was by far the most critical contributor to my wanting to do better, in my studies. A single word of appreciation from either of the parent can make any to move mountains. Those parents, who are either miserly in appreciating the work of their off springs, or are totally oblivious of its significance, unknown mostly to themselves actually promote the destruction of what could be otherwise, excellent personalities in the making. And at the worst end of the spectrum, those parents who use instead, rebuke and insult, ensure the growth of psychologically, socially and economically a deformed child.
“By appreciation, we make excellence in other our own property” (Voltaire). Co-workers respond to managers who are frequent in expressing their appreciation, with enhanced productivity. It is by far the most potent motivating factor. Appreciation as a tool of inspiration, far exceeds, mere monetary compensation or recognition.
Employee recognition awards done at frequent intervals help in the determination, creation and sustenance of improved inter-personal relationships and above, all such practices induce, not merely efficiency, but also invokes creativity.
The thunderous clapping of spectators arouses the best performance by sportsmen. I recall, during the semi-final of a match at the Wimbledon, where generally the spectators behave in the most sophisticated manner, a fan from the crowd shouted out to John McEnroe, who was losing one game after another and ultimately the set, “Hey! John come on, buck up”…. McEnroe from the Centre Court to the delight of the spectators responded with exasperation from the court, “I am trying my best, bloke”… he went on to win the match.
Appreciation expressed improves quality of life- it has positive effect on general health of both the givers and the recipient: An article in Psychology Today, states, “The hypothalamus, which controls basic bodily functions such as eating and sleeping and dopamine, the ‘reward neurotransmitter’ are heavily affected from feelings of gratitude and appreciation.” Neuroscientists believe appreciation engages the brain of the recipient in a virtuous cycle.
Oprah Winfrey is reported to have commented in one of her programmes, “I have talked to nearly 30,000 people on the show and all 30,000 had one thing in common - they all wanted validation (appreciation / recognition). They all wanted to know, “do you hear me? Do you see me? Does what I say mean anything to you?”
Appreciation should be delivered with speed. Delay induces more back-fire, then positive response. Upon each and every outstanding performance delivered, there is expectation to be rightfully recognised, never delay, deliver it instantly; to use the legal cliché with amendment, appreciation delayed is appreciation denied! In the block buster movie “Shakti” starring two giants, Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachan; where they played father and son; the upright, inflexible about principles of justice, police inspector general, Dilip, ignores his son, Amitabh, who faces abduction during childhood. The son gets distanced when the police officer denies the demands of the abductors of his son; which is a bargain offered to spare the life of his only son. The son is distraught at his father's apparent lack of love. The son falls into waywardness and embraces criminality. In the drop scene, the father (IG) is shown chasing his son (the wanted criminal) and shouting out to him to stop or else he would pull the trigger upon him … the father (IG) fires and pumps bullets in the chest of his son (the criminal)…. holding and kissing his dying son, he (IG) says, “I love you, Vijay (the son)”. The criminal (son), who is gasping for breath makes such a powerful statement, that brings to the fore the importance of expressing feelings / emotions of love and appreciation at the right time; he says, “why didn’t you say this before, Dad?” The neglected son dies in the arms of the honest, principled and upright father.
Never let ego stop you from appreciating the good work of colleagues or even family members. It is also regretfully an unfortunate truth, “Do not expect to be acknowledged for what you are, much less of what you would be; since no man can well measure a great man but upon the bier,” (Walter Landor).
The economic principle of greater supply reduces demand and consequently the price (value) is equally applicable to the use of “appreciation”. If it is excessively done, it may lose its charm in the eyes of co-workers- a manager who praises all, and everything from the best to shoddy work does more harm than good to their motivation.
Appreciation must retain some exclusivity and must be used intelligently to provoke performance. The leader must know the difference between frequent and excessive. Appreciation is taken and given; both require a different set of mind. In the act of conveying appreciation, we are looking at other’s outstanding traits.
Divinity, has as its essential Being, the primacy of mercy. Each living soul is blessed with a different and unique talent and personality - it is up to us each to discover, and acquire mastery of that unique blessing. Do we ever appreciate Mother Nature’s endowments upon us? I recently heard a blind man with a vision, who said, “appreciate what you have - there are many not so fortunate… what I have - someone is praying for.”
More about appreciating oneself, in another piece, if time and tide, waits upon me…..
The writer is a banker and freelance columnist