HELP! My Bias is Making Me Look Stupid!

The Rub

We all have our ideas on what individuals and government officials should be doing to combat the COVID19 crisis. I am amazed at the wide spectrum of opinions out there. Some are pragmatic and believe we are becoming emotionally unhinged and over-reacting, and even “destroying our country”. Others hold the compassionate position and are convinced that we should “Save them all at any cost”. Both sides are convinced they are right and somehow embody a more robust perspective.

Of course, both examples represent the two extremes. To be fair, I believe most people from both sides generally mean well, they just start from a different worldview and have different levels of emotional intelligence to guide them.

With that said, they CAN’T all be right. We all recognize this. It is evident by how wrong we believe others to be when they disagree with us.

If you are convinced that you are fully aware of your personal biases and have them fully in check, you are WRONG! In fact, you can’t. No one can. Even worse, you think you don’t even have a bias. There is a word designated for such a person, “fool”.

“…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Rom 12:3

Wired to Fool Ourselves

Our personal biases are amplified by our pride. The more convinced you are that you are right, the greater your blind spot is. Our biased perspective gives us a false sense of assurance of being right and makes us stupid. We are okay with this, because we like to be right. We find favor in superiority. We are wired in such a way to believe what we want to believe, or what we have already been conditioned to believe.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear”. 2 Tim 4:3

Our Blind Spot

This principle applies to everyone everywhere. I am not talking about everyone who disagrees with you. Don’t use this article to internally justify pointing your finger at those who you oppose. This applies to YOU, and me. It is called Confirmation Bias and we are all infected by it whether we like it or not. If you didn’t know this… It’s because it remains in your blind spot!

We can’t see our own blind spots. That’s why they are called blind spots, but everyone else can spot them in us a mile away.

The Counterweight of Perspective

There is something we can do to help combat this internal force that lies to us and creates unintended stupidity in our heads. We can intentionally subject ourselves to countering ideas. We can listen to, and seek out other ideas, even those we don’t want to believe. Not with skepticism but giving reason a chance to prevail.

“May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you are bringing some strange notions to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” Now all the Athenians and foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing more than hearing and articulating new ideas.” Acts 17:19-21 NIV

There is a truth to every matter and to help us keep our own biases from pulling us further away from it, we need a counterweight to bring us back.

We lie to ourselves so much. We are by far our own biggest source of distraction from seeing truth clearly. Only when we realize this, can we fully understand and appreciate how much we need others to help us develop a proper sense of perspective.

Drawing Better Conclusions

Our self-awareness desperately depends on others to help us see our blind spots. Ever try to see the back of your head without external help?

The more we seek to learn what we don’t know or understand, the more we can truly begin to draw closer to better ideas, better reasoning and better conclusions. Oh, and better relationships. There is a word designated for such a person that thinks in such a way, “wise”.

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing” Socrates

Self-Awareness – Identify the Stupid in You.

I realize how foolish I can be when I close myself off from external input. Because I realize that I am cursed with this potential for stupidity, I have determined that I am going to do my best to try to always seek out the other side of the story to help draw me closer to truth. I will seek to widen my perspective to keep my bias from decieving me and leading me down the path of foolishness. When I fail (and I will), I hope I can have the awareness to see my need to humble myself before those that have discovered my foolishness. Otherwise I will always be a fool in their eyes.

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

In our interactions with each other when we are divided, let us show grace and humility. Embrace a spirit of curiosity, learning from each other with a common goal to enrich each other with mutual understanding. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

I know I am going to work on getting better at this. Call me out if you see me fail. My bias desparately needs a counterweight.

How about you? Want to chat more about this stuff?

Joel Smith

joelsmith123@yahoo.com

How Are You Branding Yourself?

You are branded, whether you know it or not.  We all are.  Every, company, team and every individual.

When you think of branding, you probably think of marketing or advertising.  Branding is all around us. TV, radio, websites, social media, signs and billboards and even on our clothing.  The idea behind commercial branding is to make an impression on you that will be remembered. It will prompt you to take action to enter into a positive transaction. We try to distinguish our service or product, as having a greater benefit than other options.

Branding increases our opportunities. The reason branding is so effective is because it allows the consumer to take a peek behind the mask.  It helps them see what we are all about.  Consumers want to know what we stand for and what our mission is. Why should they trust us, and most of all, what you are going to do for them.

Branding can be used in many ways. It is used as an agent of influence.  It helps the world see our “best” side, hoping to keep our “work in progress” side non-visible.  It can also be used to connect with people through transparency and authenticity.  Regardless of the branding motives, the consumers will always determine effectiveness.  They will always have the last say.

Think about successful companies like McDonalds, Chick filA, Apple, Disney and Toyota.  They generally have great credibility in the eyes of consumers.  People are fanatics because of how these brands make them feel. How they make their world just a little better.  It is an experience, not just a product.

Not all branding ends up as initially planned.   When you hear the name Enron, you remember the scandal that took the whole company down along with many associated business’s. How about “New Coke”?  Back in 1985 they thought they were on to something great only to find out their consumers wanted the “Old Coke” back.  They had some damage control to do.  I am sure Pepsi got a chuckle.

In one way branding is sharing “who you are”, or at least who you wish for them to think you are. Who you are will largely determine whether they wish to continue with you.  This is true with companies, products, services and even individuals.  We like to think that what we brand is exactly what others will perceive.  What ever people perceive defines your brand.

Over the past year or so I have been hearing more and more about “personal branding”.  This is not a new concept, but it has been popping up more and more lately.  There must be something more to it.  Personal branding is much like any other branding. It is intentionally building credibility in the eyes of others. Personal branding can increase your opportunities if done effectively.

Those who are not on the front line of marketing or sales, you too are branding yourself, whether you know it or not.  Someone may ask “But I am a retail manager, how am I branding myself?” Your customers, employees, and your supervisors are continually evaluating “who you are”.  They determine what you represent by what they see in you. This is how we as humans determine level of trust.  We do it subconsciously, without even knowing we are doing it.  It’s not only what you say about yourself, but more importantly, your actions and behaviors.  You won’t always behave according to what you say, but you will always behave according to who you truly are.

This brings me to the heart of personal branding.  Some would say that your actions will determine “who you are”.  I say “who you are” will determine your actions.  When you do things or behave in ways that are generally not in line with who you really are, you may find yourself running out of mojo, and reverting back to who you really are.  This is the reason you don’t generally see the real person is on the first date.  In most every case, given time, who they really are comes out. This hold true with new employees and new leaders on the scene.  There is such an emphasis on first impressions (and they are important), but not enough emphasis on continued impressions.

“Some would say that your actions will determine “who you are”.  I say “who you are” will determine your actions.”

We can’t fake it for long. An honest person doesn’t need to remember what they told people.  A caring person doesn’t need to pretend to care. And a person with emotional intelligence doesn’t need to hold their anger in.  When “who you are” stands out above others as excellence, others will go out of their way to be part of what you are doing. When “who you are”, regardless of what you say stands out negatively, others will go out of their way to avoid you.  Who I am will determine my personal brand.

The effectiveness of any leader is determined by their personal brand. This isn’t always realized by the leader.  When a leader justifies himself by his own assessment of his work, or by his intentions or desires, he misses out on one of the most important resources he has. The truth as seen by others. We love to hear others tell us how much they like our brand, but when it comes to a hard honest evaluation, most of us too often turn a blind eye.  We don’t want to know about the bad stuff.

Protect your personal brand like it is the key to all future opportunities, BECAUSE IT IS!

Your future opportunities will depends on the impression you leave on everyone who crosses paths with you.  This is your wake that you leave behind.  You will either be a magnet that attracts others to your personal brand, or something less.  If you  don’t offer the world anything remarkable, don’t be surprised if others don’t seek out your un-remarkableness.

In your workplace, if you show stress and fail to keep your emotions in check, you are branding yourself.  If you believe you are always right, and are condescending to people, you are branding yourself.  If you show up late and take short-cuts, you are branding yourself.  If you are more concerned over results than you are people, you are branding yourself.  If you fail to take full responsibility for your actions, make excuses and blame others, you are branding yourself,  Likewise if your actions line up with values such as integrity, commitment, personal growth, transparency and kindness, you are branding yourself.

“If you  don’t offer the world anything remarkable, don’t be surprised if others don’t seek out your un-remarkableness.”

If you are struggling with your personal brand, or if others are struggling with YOUR personal brand, don’t give up.  There is hope.  You can learn to improve your brand by first beginning to change what you believe about yourself.  You can’t change what others see in you (your brand), until YOU change what you see in you.

You have the ability to brand yourself to make an impact in your workplace, your family, in your community.

If you want to make sure you are displaying a positive impression that will lead to opportunities, you’ll need to be willing to change your perspective. You may benefit from finding a person that has the skills and desire to coach you to become the brand you know you can be, and wish to display to others.

I would be glad to discuss with you the opportunity to help you change your personal brand.  You can change “Who you are”.

You Should Be Committed!

We live in a world that struggles mightily with commitment. We either fear commitment or we over commit ourselves.  The value of a commitment has depreciated greatly over the last century.

“Most people fail, not because of a lack of desire, but because of lack of commitment.”  Vince Lombardi

We live in a culture where:

  • On average less than 30% of employees continue beyond one year in the hospitality industry.
  • Our most recent retirees changed jobs an average of 11 times by the time they retired.

In light of social media, the quality of our relationships has taken a back seat to the quantity of our relationships. This is both personally and professionally. The lack of face to face interaction makes it much easier to disengage and look elsewhere to have our needs met.

We can always find another “friend” or job when things start to go sideways. Our unemployment rate is at its lowest in decades. It’s easier now to move sideways to avoid responsibility and start over than ever before. The average number of Facebook friends is 338!  Do we really have or need that many?  Is it possible to have so many friends that we experience loneliness? That seems to be what is happening.  It only takes a click to  friend, and a click to unfriend.  There is not a lot of trust required, and virtually no commitment apart from the effort of a click.

The Lateral Loop

Another trend that I see is that the number of employees that bounce to lateral positions has increased.  It’s like musical chairs for a large portion of the work force. They are searching for significance, wanderers in the universe trying to find that just right place to land. Unfortunately what we are looking for cannot be found in a job alone, nor can it be found without a level of commitment. I would estimate that around a third of the workforce in the service industry moves around from place to place without any significant growth or advancement. Are they are moving to find something, or to get away from something?

Stepping Stones

There are many very responsible reasons why people move on to other opportunities.  Starting a new career, or advancement in compensation, and opportunity for personal growth are a number of excellent reasons to terminate employment for another opportunity.  We love when people come to us with a bigger plan and use us as a stepping stone to get reach their dream destiny. Unfortunately in the hospitality industry, these are the exceptions rather than the norm.  Most turnover in the service industry has less to do with opportunity and more to do with a lack of commitment to push through current obstacles to reach another level. It’s amaizing how many people fail at the easiest jobs.

So many people are blind to the potential that is just down the road if they just stick it out, and be willing to stretch their capacity and develop their long-term credibility.  People who keep starting over never see the top of the mountain, but they work just as hard without ceasing because they have to.  They don’t get to experience the fruits of success that only comes through commitment, dedication and resolve.

No one who has accomplished anything worthwhile ever did so without first fully committing to it.

There is a greater opportunity for a person without a college or high school education to become a millionaire in the hospitality industry than any other industry in our country. I personally know many. For those who choose an alternate route than college, this should be music to your ears.  This industry is screaming out for responsible people willing to commit to learning and serving.  Opportunity isn’t the problem.

We have entered an era where lack of commitment leads to a lack of trust, and a lack of trust leads to a lack of commitment. It’s a downward spiral that will only reverse if we choose to break the cycle.

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” Paul J. Meyer

Stick it out!… Decide, Commit, Push Hard!…. Get there!

Are you truly committed? 

The Commitment Test;  (Be honest with yourself)

  1. Do you do as much as you can, or as little as you have to at work?
  2. Are you committed to personal growth?, or are you just living out who you already are?
  3. Are you fully committed unconditionally to your significant other, or is there a point that will justify a disconnect?
  4. Do you have 2-3 people in your life that you trust and can be 100% transparent with?
  5. Are you easily distracted by entertainment that keeps you from progressing?
  6. Do you go out of your way to find comfort and security?
  7. Do you struggle to finish what you start?
  8. Do you have several wasted days each month that you simply exist without cause?
  9. Do you have trouble saying “No” to good opportunities or people?
  10. Do you have trouble saying “Yes” to good opportunities or people?

If you have answered yes to more than a couple of these, you likely struggle with commitment.

If you wish to change that, here is a good start.

  • Decide what you want. Remove all other options and excuses from your brain.
  • Make one decision TODAY to commit 100% to something that what will move you closer. Write it down.
  • Tell someone about it and give them permission to hold you accountable to it.  Hint, don’t ask someone that is not committed to you.
  • Repeat tomorrow, and the next day until you feel satisfied that you have fully committed to what you want.
  • Keep an ongoing list of the commitments you need to focus on for growth, and a list of what you need to uncommit to, to make room for your new commitments. Hint, you cannot commit to one thing without uncommitting to another.
  • Now, stand by your commitments, and teach others…

I would love to hear your feedback.

 

 

The Art of Professionalism

I grew up never really knowing what professionalism was. I came from a blue collar family that was more about living and acting in the moment according to the culture.  We didn’t always consider our actions and how we should behave or what we should or shouldn’t say around others.

In my early twenties I was more focused on my freedom to say whatever I feel, and not really worried about my responsibility to keep my words from hurting others.  My filter was weak.

I had a wake-up call that caused me to question much of my cultural upbringing. I realized my circumstances, limitations and personal history did not have to control who I become. If I truly want to be successful at anything, it was going to take a lot of work, dedication and a change in the way that I look at myself, and present myself. I needed a new outlook on who I am and what I wanted to become.

Now as I find myself a business owner, I really appreciate a person with great verbal and writing skills. There is something about a skilled individual who can use their word to say, “I care about what you think”, or “I would like to assist you the best that I can” and “I assume the best in you and appreciate you”. Most of the world says “whatchu want?”, or “make it quick, my time is valuable”, and “Have I got a great deal for you!”

Professionalism is not just about looking sharp and acting sharp, but being sharp with direction and conviction. It doesn’t come from a script and you can’t simply take a class to become professional.

Ultimately professionalism will only come when we make the decision to put others ahead of ourselves and take what we do seriously. That’s really it. When we begin to understand what others need to hear we begin to think outside of ourselves. When what we do matters because we have already determined that it is worthy of our efforts and worth doing well, we begin to act and communicate more professionally with purpose and conviction.

Wisdom plays a major part in professionalism too. Wisdom of speech is the measure of a person. What comes out of your mouth is what others will judge you by. Even if what you say is socially acceptable, shouldn’t we try to be socially exceptional?

I have to admit that when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I had a pretty poor vocabulary (swearing), and now when I look back I see that it was mostly just to fit in with a society.  I wonder what people thought of my poor choice of words when I was young living without restraint.

What does it mean to live without restraint? Well, for me it meant that no one was going to tell me what I can say and can’t say. I was my own boss and if people don’t like me the way I am, they can take a flying leap. Foolishness!

The problem with being your own source of accountability is that you end up saying many stupid things that hurt others and yourself. You don’t even realize your own blind spot because what others see is not on your radar.  It should be.

When I was a kid I learned the term “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me”. While the intentions are good, that is one of the biggest lies ever to be told. Words can crush the spirit and wound people greatly. They can also heal and mend people if used with wisdom.

We need to be responsible with the words that we say and what we communicate to others. Learning to speak with restraint helps us to be more professional and courteous to others and keeps us from looking like a fool.

Learning to look at other people and determine what they need to hear makes us difference-makers. Sometimes people need encouragement, sometimes a smile or instructions; sometimes they need a kick in the pants. Whatever they need, when we do it with professionalism and respect it will be received with much better appreciation.

I don’t claim to be the most professional person or claim to have reached my best, but I do believe my behavior will make a difference in people’s day. So I will try to make it be a positive difference as often as I can.

 

 

Don’t Judge a Book By its Color

I just spent four wonderful days at the International Maxwell Certification Conference in Orlando Fla.  The leaders of the John Maxwell Team and Johns Leadership teaching are a magnet for quality individuals.  There were 2600 people from all over the world and I didn’t meet one I didn’t like (and I met lots).  Many dozens if not a hundreds countries were represented.  Every kind of clothing from 3 piece suits, cowboy boots, bright African colors and even high-top sneakers were on display, even a guy wearing a kilt. There was a mutual respect among everyone there.  I made a few friends from around the world that I really connected with. 

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After a few days connecting with dozens of people from every corner of the earth, I saw on a TV in the background some news commentators discussing the Charlottesville incident.   It hit me, I realized that not one person in any discussion I was part of all weekend had talked about racism .  That was so refreshing to me.  I get so tired of the media and Facebook crowd bringing so much bad attention to it (angry or bleeding heart).  I really like Morgan Freeman’s take on it.  He was asked in an interview what the answer to racism is, and he said “Stop talking about it”.  I am so glad that is exactly what happened at my conference.  Maybe everyone should try it.  Morgan would have fit in well.

I have done some thinking about that over the past few days and have come up with a few observations that I wanted to share.

Now I don’t deny that racism is real, active and a huge concern in our country, but I believe that so many people of all color are actively pointing their fingers, maybe in the wrong directions. I believe that a very small percentage of people are responsible for a very large percentage of the problem on both sides.  It seems to be causing unnecessary division among great people who do not deserve to be dragged into the fight.  These are people only in the fight in by association because others are pointing at their skin color, no other reason. When we generalize about like people, it covers everyone and it spills over onto innocent people who aren’t asking to be part of it.

The distinction we need to be making is not between color or ethnicity.  It’s a more of a matter of character beliefs based on ones worldview. We need to slice it horizontally and not vertically. It’s a degree of character, not a degree of color. Last weekend showed me that when you get large groups of people of high character together with a common value for human life, race doesn’t seem to matter much.  There is a freedom to enjoy company, share ideas and learn about other interesting culture. We don’t have to question motives because of an infectious idea. A common bond of unity can only come when we view the world through the eyes of a common Creator who created us in his image.  Ideas have consequences, so we need better ideas if we want better character development.

It also seems that when people with a common disregard for human dignity get together in opposition with people of other races with similar questionable values, the chances of tensions rising goes way up.   People of lower character beliefs come in every color, age, gender, religion, economic class and level of education.

Poor character beliefs is a HUMAN trait based on a bad worldview, not a racial, economic, social, political or national trait.  Poor character comes naturally, high character come from intentional growth.

People of poor character are drawing far too much attention and making the rest of their ethnic group (all colors) look bad by generalizing and assuming.  A thief believes that everyone steals.  A cheater believes that everyone cheats and a person who discriminates believes everyone discriminates. Good people see the good in people, bad people see the bad in people.  So, if you believe everyone discriminates, you may be one of them!  

A much smaller number of people are projecting the problem to be wider than it really is by limiting everyone else to their own inside the box, views, and assumptions.

The idea’s and beliefs that each of us hold about the world and what is true determines how we see people.  The choice to love others or hate others is your choice and yours alone.  No one can cause you to hate unless you choose to.  No, exceptions.  Character is shaped by what we choose to believe.  Poor character IS the problem, and DOES separate us. Color is NOT the problem and doesn’t have to separate us.  We need to know the difference and focus on fixing character rather than fixing other colors.

The next time someone discriminates against you for any reason, know that it is the ignorance in them that is causing it, and not the color of their skin.

Don’t judge a book by its color, get to know the author of all colors.
 

Are you Awareness driven, or Focus driven?

It’s important that we don’t get so caught up in where we are going that we forget where we are. It is equally important that we don’t get caught up in where we are that we forget about where we are going.

Are you Awareness driven, or Focus driven?

Sometimes we think of awareness and focus as being very similar. In fact they are opposites, and both are necessary. One is centralized or concentrated, the other outwardly distributed.

Awareness and focus are both important factors in our success. It would be great if we all had a natural balance of the two, but we don’t. That puts us at odds with each other, or does it?

The Brain

The human brain is an incredible creation, but one thing it doesn’t do so well is see the big picture and see the details at the same time. We all have a tendency toward one, or the other, but not both. The eye can only focus on one thing at a time. It can roam around taking smaller snapshots of information from all over, in a broad sense, or it can stay focused in the same area to get a deeper understanding of what it is looking at.

People tend to see life that way too, but we also learn to grow, socialize and communicate similarly. Driven people are always seeking to expand our awareness of what is around us, or deepen our understanding of what is in front of us. Awareness driven people like to take complex ideas and simplify them to help ‘the many’ gain awareness and understanding. Focused driven people like to add more details for a deeper level of understanding for ‘the few’ to gleem insight.

We all do both at times, but lean one way most of the time. Some people become a jack of all trades and master of none, yet others may be able to play Mozart, but struggle to tie their shoes.

Puzzles

Imagine a scenario where two individuals were asked to put ten puzzles together, and they only have one hour to finish. These puzzles are not extremely difficult but not likely to be completed on time and accurate in a single hour by the average person.

An awareness driven person may approach this task in a much different manner than a focus driven person. He would look at the task; determine that finishing the project is the most important desired result. After all they were given an hour TO FINISH! He quickly figures out that there is 60 minutes to work with, ten puzzles so that gives him approximately six minutes for each puzzle. After 60 minutes or so he has all ten mostly completed but none of them fully completed. He walks away fairly satisfied knowing that all ten puzzles look pretty good. He can still recognize the intended pictures from the boxes even though there are several gaps. “Git r done!”

The focus driven person takes a different approach. She takes a good look at the picture on the box of the first puzzle to know what the outcome needs to look like. She begins putting the puzzle together making sure she uses the pattern of corners first, edges second and then looks for identifiable patterns. She carefully searches for the right piece, finds it then puts it in its rightful place. With 20 minutes left, anxiety increases, she picks up her pace and pushes through completing 3 more puzzles before she runs out of time. She looks at her six completed puzzles and is quite pleased. She got six out of ten puzzles fully completed exactly as the boxes suggest. “If you are not going to do it right, don’t do it at all”, she thinks.

Opposing Perspectives

What if each of their work is shown to the other to observe and comment on? You can guess the criticism that may come from those evaluations as they view each other’s work from a different lens. “You didn’t even start four of them!”, “Well you didn’t finish any of them!”

In the leadership world we find these seemingly opposing perspectives play out all the time. Some people value efficiency; some are high on details and accuracy. Some find satisfaction in covering more ground and others by covering better ground. Some put a high value on time or relationships. Others put a higher value on money or influence, while yet others seek excellence or strategy.

Humility

We can cause a disconnect when we fail to appreciate other people’s perspective, or if we believe that our way of thinking is more viable than others. By nature we all tend to think this way sometimes. It takes intentional effort, and humility to consider that others may have something specific to offer that we don’t. It also takes humility to accept that our perspective may be inferior compared to another.

“It takes intentional effort, and humility to consider that others may have something to offer that we don’t. It also takes humility to accept that our perspective may be inferior compared to another.”

One Body with Many Members

1Co 12:14-18 NIV Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

When we choose to see awareness and focus not just as opposing views, but also as complimentary views, we may learn that we actually CANNOT get along WITHOUT each other. We complete each other. Unless we come to this awareness we will never understand the importance of interdependence and the beauty of productive, relational and spiritual harmony, as God intended it to be.

How We Show Appreciation

The 5 Languages of Appreciation

A couple of weeks ago I was able to hear Dr. Paul White talk about his book that he co-authored with Gary Chapman called The 5 Languages of Appreciation. I had read Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages many years ago, but I connected with this book in a way that made me take a long look at how I appreciate the people in my work.

It is easy to believe that we are doing better at showing appreciation toward others than we really are. There aren’t very many people that are truly successful at showing it in the workplace, and we tend to grade ourselves on a curve. We can tend to believe that being unappreciated is just part of the experience that makes “work” work.

Dr White shared information to help illustrate just how wide this misconception really is.

Why People Stay

  • In a survey of over 35,000 employees completed by the Chicago Tribune, the number one reason cited by the respondents of why they enjoyed their work was: “I feel genuinely appreciated by this company” November 2013

The Big Picture

“More than 80% of employees say they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work, and more than half of those surveyed said they would stay longer at their company if they felt more appreciation from their boss” (BusinessNewsDaily, 2013)

Why People Leave

  • 64% of Americans who leave their jobs say they do so because they don’t feel appreciated. (US Dept of Labor)
  • The number one factor in job satisfaction is not the amount of pay but whether or not the individual feels appreciated and valued for the work they do.

This survey focuses on how the employees feel they are valued in the workplace. It does not discuss how they really are valued. In some cases the problem may be more about the inability to communicate appreciation to valued employees rather than failing to truly appreciate them. An employee appreciated that doesn’t know it, can’t feel it. They can’t read minds.

The Gap

“While 51% of managers believe they do a good job of recognizing job well done by their staff, only 17% of the employees in the same groups believe their managers recognize them for doing a good job” (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012)

According to this survey 34% managers are not aware of their failure to recognize when their team does a good job. The question is, are you one of those 34%, or do you work with anyone that falls into this category?

Recognition vs. Appreciation

One of the contributing factors to why individuals don’t feel truly appreciated is that leaders don’t always understand the difference between recognition and appreciation.

  • Recognition is largely about results or behavior, Catch them doing something great, and recognize them for it.
  • Appreciation is more personal, it focuses on the employee’s value as a person and an employee as well as their performance.
  • The relational direction of recognition is top-down, coming from leadership. Appreciation, on the other hand, can be communicated in any direction.

What Language are you speaking?

Dr. White and Dr. Chapman suggest that we may be “missing the mark” because we arent’ speaking the same language as our co-workers.

“Each person has a primary and secondary language of appreciation. Our primary language communicates more deeply to us than the others. Although we will accept appreciation in all five languages, we will not feel truly encouraged unless the message is communicated through our primary language.”

“When messages are sent repeatedly in ways outside of that language, the intent of the message “misses the mark” and loses the impact the sender had hoped for.”

If you are in a leadership position and feel you need help with understanding a better model of appreciation, I highly recommend that you read this book. The book discusses the 5 most common languages or channels that people tend to give and receive appreciation. This book has changed the way I will go about learning ways to show appreciation to each individual in my workplace.

Understanding my own language and learning others language is a game changer for me and I believe it can be for you. Appreciation is the secret weapon to bringing people together for a single cause. When we can appreciate our employees as if they were volunteers, we can change the entire culture of our workplace.

Please share your experience.