It is easy to forget the negative power of not saying something. This week we are out traveling, and this morning we had an interesting conversation with one of the owners of the heartwarming, lovely and beautiful place where we are staying in Ibiza. The small bohemian chic hotel opened this season, and she told us about an episode having a business acquaintance over for a visit. He owned a few hotels himself, and she described what happened
He wandered around. Saying nothing. Looking all over the place. Still saying nothing. I was really worried that he did not like it. After what felt like an eternity, he told us that he could really feel that this is a place build with love... It was the most beautiful feedback I could get. I was so happy I actually started to cry.
We see this often when we work with teams and leaders. When trying to meet your ambitions it is so easy to focus on everything that needs to be improved, changed or done, that you forget to give feedback when things are going well. Look around. At many workplaces there is even a strong culture for letting people know when something is wrong, but not to acknowledge them when things are good. Often, it is only the smalls things that needs to be noticed, in order for someone to be motivated and move on.
When Kristine exhibits her art (she's a professional visual artist in addition to being a partner in Brainwells), she explains it like this:
People come to my openings. Which is great, of course. I have finished something important for me, and it is like hanging my heart to display at the walls, and I am quite vulnerable for feedback. But I need it. There is always some who do not like what I do, and I can hear them whisper "a child could do that," "provocative colors," "art these days..." This is actually sometimes funny, although of course not as cool as listening in on those who really LOVE the artworks (which make me happy -- because I love them too).
Many have asked if the negative comments upset me. But, to be honest, I actually prefer that people get upset or do not like my paintings, as opposed to total ignorance.
Because it happens that people do that. Even people I know very well, and whom I expect more of. They say nothing. Not a single word about the artworks. And that really makes me unsure. I stand there thinking, "dear friend, I am really grateful and happy that you attend the opening, but come on! I pour my heart out to create this -- and then you say... nothing?" I look at them quite curiously and keep on thinking, "I am sure you could say something. If you think about it; it is always possible to find something nice to say...whatever as long as you are not ignoring me..."
The thing is that people doing this are probably not aware of the negative power of saying nothing. They might think that by just being there, I should understand that they appreciate my efforts. And probably I should, but I am not a mind-reader, and it is too easy to misinterpret and misunderstand the words that are not spoken. Especially when we have accomplished things where the heart is involved.
You might know the feeling yourself: You are about to accomplish something which is REALLY important for you and in the midst of the joy of almost being there, is the fear that nobody would notice it.
It matters because if you are ignored, this makes it really hard to start a new project. It can be big or small accomplishments -- if you are being ignored, do not get credit for that special idea or no one sees how you contribute -- you loose your motivation. Things that should be joyful, suddenly get hard to finish.
Why is attention and feedback so important? It is, because being recognized motivates us. It make things fun! Fun is many things, but on a deeper level it is also about this. Being seen. Being recognized. Feel that what you do mean something for someone.
As we see it, attention and feedback can also be looked upon as energy. And energy needs to be in a circular or two-way motion in order to run freely and not stagnate. How often do you let your co-workers know what you appreciate about them? Even the tiniest remark can make a big difference for someone. Be the one who make the difference for somebody. Let it start flowing.
- Put on your "appreciate-goggles," look around, and start paying attention to what people do. Let them know when there is something you like. "I really appreciate that you always smile when you see me in the morning."
- Be generous. Ask people if there are anything you can do for them? Usually they will say "no," but they will for sure remember that you asked.
- Look around -- is there anyone who does something that makes your day better? Let them know.
What is your take on this? Do you like getting appreciated? Share with us if you have any experiences, reflections, or way of doing this that can make things better.
Together we are a well of knowledge!
This blog post was originally posted in www.leadershipcouragefun.com
Copywrite image 1: Brainwells
Copywrite image 2: I am K /GuestofaGuest.com