If you knew that the art of appreciation can give you a more humane and more impactful way to lead, what difference would you see?
Wait, isn’t it a bit woo-woo?
Far from it…
Research shows that our appreciation-to-criticism ratio is far too low to help us create high-functioning teams and therefore a positive impact.
Our reaction to criticism can take us from freeze to fear, from fight to flight.
And when that happens, we’re primed to put ourselves in a survival mode…
We stop listening, unsettled, drenched in unhelpful chemicals that flood the brain.
So, what can you do as a leader to generate a genuine, fresh bond?
Be the butterfly ( or the hummingbird ) that gracefully captures the nectar – what’s good! – in flight, not someone that fires inaccurate salvos of criticism
Through the art of appreciation, you learn to have a surgical touch that picks up what’s good, to give it back and produce a targeted wave of joy and realisations for the person in front of you…
Be attentive enough to pick up on patterns, waves of thoughts, and details such as words that reflect values and themes, in the other person’s narrative. This requires a strong listening presence; you can’t multitask or listen to reply.
To build your appreciation (which is not feedback, gratitude or mentoring), you pick up on a couple of values, personal traits and beliefs that transcend a person and showed up during the talk. Make a sentence that is concise, heartfelt, and specific.
“I appreciate the profound reflection you shared as a professional who deeply cares for the ethos of the organisation, the determination to bring everyone along and the patience you consistently show in doing so”
As you can see, it’s not about you. Not your story or how your partner made you feel (that would be gratitude instead, a feeling you get when you receive something).
An appreciation is selfless, solely directed at the person in front of you. Your gift to them.
Refrain from adding a layer of advice, an opinion or something about your past life experience, because it would only dissolve the impact of your appreciation.
You might think: “hmmm I don’t need to tell my staff this or that about their profile or ways of being in the world. They know already, right?”
Every time you give an appreciation, you reinforce a link between the person and the very essence of their existence. You take them out of the daily grind and remind them why they do what they do, and the value they bring about in the world.
It’s tough for someone to maintain that level of distance and insights at any time of the day.
That’s why you come into the picture.
4. Still Woo-Woo?
You might think: “It still feels a bit woo-woo!”
Then it might be your challenge to explore 😁
Know that in the meantime, a specific, succinct and sincere appreciation has provided the person in front of you with another precious wave of thinking. What a gift.
Can you remember the feeling of giving or receiving a succinct, sincere and specific appreciation, and its impact on you?
And what more did happen?