Two little words, three common threads

We all like to think we appreciate what others do, but do we, really? Do we fully appreciate the things we have and the things others do for us, or are we too busy on the wheel of life, quickly moving from one thing to the next, without stopping to enjoy the journey?

The last few weeks have been an interesting time for me. Having no choice but to take a period of “enforced relaxation” following a recent minor operation, I found myself having to work hard at doing nothing – in fact I found it more difficult than work! Anyone who knows me well will know that I struggle to have blocks of white space in the diary, I like to be busy.

I very quickly learned how much my usual healthy and very fortunate self took for granted. Simple movements, bending, walking became a chore and had to be practiced where previously they were not thought about.

Listening to friends and family members, I noticed something, which transpired into common theme. Stories regularly citing being “taken for granted” both at home and in work life. I noticed three common threads which can be applied to both areas, but may prove particularly useful if you have responsibility for managing people;

This is one of the most frequent issues I encounter, particularly with the manager/employee relationship or when we are assessing people for recruitment or development purposes. Thinking we know what the other person is about to say, or how they would act. Sometimes it’s like the person has a crystal ball and can tell me how the future will play out, without having a shred of evidence. My question is always “how do you know?” “have you asked?” If not then don’t assume. Work on the basis of leaving nothing to chance and gather the facts first before reaching a conclusion.

Sometimes people do things not because they want to, but because they feel they have to, or they have done it for so long it becomes expected, a habit almost. This feeling that things are expected can lead to resentment if under valued. A little bit like the unofficial team roles sometimes assumed. For example, how many times have you heard the organiser of the Christmas party say, “I’m not organising it next year, someone else can do it”. Maybe it’s time to review those unofficial roles and expectations and make sure these are fairly distributed and that the incremental effort is recognised.

Bringing me nicely on to…

Or should I say lack of. In each example, home or work, most people were saying things like “they don’t even notice what I’ve done” “I don’t know why I bother” “an occasional thank you would be nice”. Sound familiar? I’ve made mental note to say thank you more for the things others do for me.

My conclusion, forced relaxation is not all bad. Taking things for granted is. It can lead to demotivated, unhappy people and is bad for relationships. So as it’s Valentines Day, spread some love and appreciation to colleagues and loved ones. It can start with those two little words, “Thank you”

Let me know how it goes…

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