In the past few days, I've had some amazing conversations with people about how things I've written here have affected them. Since having a positive impact is one of my most important values and motivators, hearing from people that what I write here makes a difference to them is tremendously rewarding.
What occurred to me, though, was how often we DON'T tell people how something they've done has positively impacted us. We may be quick to point out where a screw-up or problem has occurred, but how often in the course of a work day do we stop someone and tell them of the positive impact they've had on us?
I've been observing in myself, lately, my tendency to somehow withhold this information from people--to not take the time to express my appreciation for the gifts they give me in the form of insight or support. I'm great at thanking them for resources ("hey--really appreciate that link!"), but not so great at saying things like "I've been thinking about our conversation earlier and let me tell you how it helped me with something."
I've been trying to be more intentional about acknowledging these gifts and engaging people in thanking them for the positives they provide in my life. More specifically, I've been trying to thank them for the impact their insights or wisdom or ideas have on me. I'm trying to take it deeper than just "hey, thanks for sharing," to show them the positive effect they have on me.
Doing this has helped me build more positive work relationships, but it has also helped me to better see the positive forces at work in my career. By reaching out and letting people know that I appreciate their efforts and their gifts, I am more aware in general of the strengths and talents of the people who surround me. It has created a strange and wonderful "energy field" around me, a virtuous cycle where the more I acknowledge gifts, the more easily I can see them.
I also realize, based on my own experiences with people sharing impact with me, how motivating it can be to hear that what you do makes a difference to someone, that it really matters. This is powerful stuff and it's what is missing in a lot of people's work lives.
I know a lot of people work in places where they feel invisible and unappreciated, where their efforts seem to go into a deep, dark hole. But we could start to make that feeling go away, simply in choosing to interact differently with each other. We could do a better job of reaching out to people who have a positive impact and letting them know that, for us at least, who they are and what they do really DOES matter.
Imagine the shifts we could start to make at work if we did this. I'm not talking in a generic, "You matter" kind of way. I mean specifically and authentically, an intentional act on our part to connect with the impact that people have on us and to share with them how important that is to our lives.
I think we'd be surprised at what we could make happen if we did. . .