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“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Chances are you've heard that quote along the way. I think of it all the time, because it is TRUE. Think about those people in your life who have made you feel especially “at home” in their presence. My great-aunt Irma comes to mind. We would go visit her in Washington state when I was a kid. She was straight out of a Roald Dahl book: all rosy and plump and filled with happy things to say. She would feed us bologna & mayo on white bread, and let us pick every berry in her garden. She made us feel so welcomed. Now, think of a person who makes you feel bad, or small, in their presence. Someone who is half listening, half looking at the clock while you are together. Or the person you've met 3 times, and who has no clue who you are. Yuck! Now, let's apply it to work! Did you ever have a boss that made you feel genuinely appreciated, or at least truly comfortable? If you are the boss, how do you think you make your employees feel? Good feelings occur when there is a coherent combo of: words spoken & matching body language and facial expressions. Not one without the other. When someone says nice words, but they don't match the face or body language we are prone to disbelieve them. In her Tedtalk about communication through body language, social psychologist Amy Cuddy says, “we make sweeping judgements and inference from body language”. It could be argued that your facial expressions and body language matter more than your words. As Winston Churchill famously said, “Diplomacy is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they enjoy the trip.”.

Do you know who always has facial expressions and body language that matches his words? Ted! And there is a reason everyone loves him. We appreciate the ease of seeing and hearing a cohesive and consistent person!

In the workplace the best way to consistently increase the good feelings (wellbeing) is through appreciation, recognition and affirmation. There really is a connection between believing in someone and their achievements. People (often) live up or down to your expectations. And, more often than not, people don't get consistent feedback about what they are doing well (& where they could course correct). Be a Ted!

“Research finds the business benefits of high wellbeing are greatly enhanced by optimum recognition and greatly damaged by poor recognition” -Gallup & Workhuman Research

Now, take a minute to think about the sort of appreciation (or recognition) that is meaningful to you? When was the last time someone gave you PERSONALIZED & AUTHENTIC words of appreciation? Was it at work? If so, count yourself blessed. If not, be the change… To take a deeper look at the connection between workplace wellbeing and recognition and the organizational benefits, read the full report from Workhuman & Gallup.

Do you remember the love languages book that everyone was excited about in the 90's by Gary Chapman? Well, the same author wrote a business book about appreciation in the workplace. It has great ideas about identifying the unique ways your team members feel appreciated, and the skies the limit on application. My only caution is: Don't be restricted to the options given in the book. I was working with a team awhile back and the CFO said, “Can my appreciation language be that no one knocks on my door or pops in to say friendly things while I'm working?!”. And the answer is, yes! Take a look here:

Lastly, if you happen to be thinking: Seriously, Nikki - what about accountability and appropriate work/life boundaries. It's not all sunshine and roses. I want my people to DO THE WORK! Stay tuned, we will tackle this topic next time.

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