It’s odd that we rarely talk about expressing appreciation in business. Sure you’ll see some client appreciation events or special discounts from time to time but how about the everyday interactions?
Yet it’s appreciation that strengthens relationships, and it’s the quality of the relationships you nurture that helps your business thrive. It’s also simply good karma.
This all came to light for me last January when I looked ahead to Valentine’s Day (yes, I’m a romantic at heart). As I began to consider the relationships in my life – personal and business – I had the inspiration to declare February as Appreciation Month. To make it more than just one day of nurturing relationships, but rather a whole month of daily focus on appreciation of life and the lives of those around me.
Whether you call it gratitude or appreciation, the thing is, sometimes we’re not sure how to do express it in business, and so we don’t, in order to avoid potential awkwardness. Let’s stop that right now! I’ve come up with five principles that will help you build your own practice of expressing appreciation with confidence.
1. Don’t just say it – show it!
Saying it may be a good first step, especially if you’re starting from scratch and really have to think about letting the people around you know how much you appreciate them. Just get started. Is it the waitress who was cheerful and made you smile, your employee who stayed late or went that extra mile to meet a deadline, or a friend who called out of the blue when you were feeling blue? And sometimes it not even a who, it’s a thing – like that perfect parking spot, right by the door on a rainy night when you’re late, or a sunny day.
Just don’t stop there. We all know that actions speak louder than words. So instead of just telling them, do something too. Whether it’s in the form of a tangible note card where you express your appreciation in writing, or whether it’s a small gift. Invest some effort and it will make the gesture so much more meaningful.
2. Be appropriate
Showing appreciation is a bit like giving a gift, and of course it can actually include giving gifts. The thing is, you don’t give people the gift YOU like, but the one THEY would like. Or at least you try.
So think about what expression of appreciation would be appropriate for any specific person. What would THEY like to be appreciated for, and what form of appreciation would work for them?
Don’t give the same compliment that this person may hear lots of times. Find something about them that they don’t get much recognition for and show them that you noticed and appreciate it.
If you’re giving a gift consider what they like or need. Don’t go out and buy a big box of chocolates to someone who’s struggling to losing weight – or diabetes. An Amazon gift card might be much more appropriate, so they can get what they want. Don’t get carried away with gifts – remember it’s about recognizing and expressing your appreciation for THEM.
3. Be vulnerable
Open up a bit. Get real and share some personal information. In my past newsletter about Appreciation Month, I shared that I find it challenging to be consistent with expressing appreciation myself, in word and deed, so I’m working on strengthening my appreciation habits while taking my readers along for the journey.
When you get specific as you express appreciation, you may have to show areas of weakness – especially as you work on improving them. That’s okay. Everyone has weaknesses. You don’t have to be super human to be acceptable. In fact, sharing your very human side can bring you closer in your relationships. Transparency in business is an attractive trait.
4. Consistency is key
It’s best if it becomes a daily habit – for a lifetime. To help myself build a new habit with appreciation and increase my focus I started my Facebook project of posting daily someone or something that I appreciated.
On a personal note, this has been an interesting journey. Earlier in the month when I was quite sick it was tough to daily come up with things to appreciate – normally I wouldn’t have even considered it. But my commitment to consistency kept my focus.
5. Expect nothing in return
Expressing appreciation has many benefits, but they are more likely to come if you don’t have “expectations.” It’s not a matter of tit for tat, where one act or expression of appreciation will get you so much new business.
Instead, focus on giving. After all, you know what you put out you’ll get back sooner or later. It’s the law of good karma!
So why not get started today? Who or what can you notice and appreciate?
© 2013 Success Coaching “Known for expediting business success, Sue Clement of Success Coaching is a referral expert, international speaker and author of “Insider Secrets to Referral Success”. She has impacted thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners helping them simplify their marketing, leverage their networks and get more clients.