I was on my way to office a few weeks back when I saw a group of people standing on the pavement waiting to cross the road. I slowed my car and stopped, and gestured them to go ahead and cross. They obliged. In that group of 8 to 10 people, one young man looked at me, smiled and showed me a thumps up. I smiled back at him and nodded.
On many instances before this incident and after, I have stopped to let pedestrians cross the road. And every now and then a guy or a lady would look at me and appreciate my stopping by either smiling, nodding, showing a thumps up or combinations of the three. While I don’t do what I do (stop the car to let the pedestrians cross) for appreciation, I will confess it feels good.
I would like to highlight three things here:
Simple gestures: The gestures used by the pedestrians are very simple, and yet very powerful. At work, a simple pat on the back or “Thank you for doing this” can go a long way.
Simple deeds: The act of stopping to let pedestrians cross is also simple. We (all of us…not just Managers) need to keep our eyes open to see others (peers, team members and even our bosses) doing the right thing, the smallest right thing and acknowledge and appreciate them.
Timely explicit feedback: The car stopped, the pedestrian crossed the road, reached office, and then thought back about how nice it was for the person driving the car to have stopped. Does that help? The golden rule of appreciation is that it needs to be both timely and explicit. Appreciation not expressed in time is equivalent to no appreciation at all.
A leader I worked with. once challenged a group of us, “Every day, every single day, you should find at least one good thing about someone you work with, and ensure that you acknowledge and appreciate that.”
Are you up for the challenge?