Last week, I wrote about expressing appreciation in the workplace. I talked about the importance of feeling valued by our colleagues and I listed some ways in which to show that appreciation.
To piggy-back off my last blog, now I want to address the fine art of receiving appreciation. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that most of us find it hard to gracefully be on the receiving end of someone else’s accolades. We tend to shrug it off: “I was just doing my job.” Or we silently ask ourselves “do we really deserve this?” And the equally concerning: “can I live up to it?”
On the other hand, some people receive appreciation with extreme confidence bordering on superiority and egoism: “I deserve this.” that attitude usually doesn’t go over very well. does it?
As in many other aspects of life, there is a moderate solution to the question of how best to receive appreciation. I can provide it in two words: WITH HUMILITY.
Dictionary.com defines humility as, “modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance.” I wish I could add the word “sincere” to this definition, because false humility is insulting to all who witness it. Imagine Usain Bolt, the runner from Jamaica, shrugging off the four Olympic gold medals he won in 2016. Imagine Jonas Salk, the scientist who was credited for creating the first polio vaccine, telling the world, “it was no big deal.” And yet, many of us have difficulty receiving appreciation. We sometimes diminish the achievement by stating what we could have done better. Or we make a joke about it and then we change the subject so as to deflect the attention from ourselves.
My conclusion? False humility makes as little sense as full-blown braggadocio.
So how can we get better at this? A good place to start is by giving the appreciation to ourselves. Look in the mirror each morning and make a statement out loud about something we’re good at, or something we’ve accomplished. I might tell myself, “Nancy, that lasagna you made last night was delicious!” (And I would resist the urge to tell myself that it could’ve used more salt.)
Another idea would be to take the time to notice, and I mean really notice, what you appreciate in others. Maybe it’s the fact that your co-worker always drives when you go to lunch together. Or maybe your supervisor stops every morning to say hello to you on the way to her office. Once you start observing things you appreciate in others, no matter how big or how small, you’re taking positive steps to rewire your own brain so that you can eventually accept their appreciation of you.
According to contemporary writer Marianne Williamson, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
Let’s all pinky swear to let our own lights shine. I’ll check in with you later to see how you’re doing.