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All About You: Let’s show some appreciation

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.

Feeling appreciated is one of life’s great delights.

To find out that your words or actions are appreciated and have made a positive difference in people’s lives can turn a drab day into a great one. Although I enjoy the attention and the bit of fame I receive when I give a keynote at a convention or company event, it’s the “your talk gave me so many tools to help handle my anxiety – thank you” type of responses I hear afterward that I enjoy the most.

Sadly, showing appreciation is often underappreciated. To appreciate something means to “recognize its full worth and impact.” Although similar in a few aspects to gratitude, appreciation isn’t the same. For example, I’m grateful that I have plenty of food and water. But to truly appreciate my abundance, I need to think about what my life would be like without enough to eat and drink.

Appreciation also includes thinking about the effort and resources it took to get your sustenance. As I write this article, I’m drinking a cup of coffee. Getting this coffee to me involved people who planted the seeds to grow the coffee plants, harvesters who collected the coffee beans and truck drivers who drove the product to the docks. Longshoremen, sailors, accountants, store owners, advertisers, cashiers and myriad other people were involved in the process, too. Thinking about this makes me feel bad that I don’t always appreciate my coffee as much as I should!

One area in our lives in which showing appreciation can have a profound effect is our relationships at home and work. I’ve been married for 43 years. My wife and I are still together for a variety of reasons – including our affection for each other. However, for the past few years, something that has helped us enjoy our companionship even more is expressing appreciation to one another, even for little things such as cleaning up, making a meal, doing research or going food shopping.

The same is true for relationships at work. If you let a crew know you appreciate its efforts to work safely and why, such as always tying off or keeping the worksite tidy, it’ll have a substantial impact. Not only will it help you create a bond and increase your influence with the crew members, but it’ll also brighten their day.

You have to purposely practice

I’m saying it again: To get better at any skill – whether it’s physical, mental or social – you must purposely practice. To strengthen my appreciation muscles, I make it a point to think about and show appreciation to everyone who serves me, whether they’re the cashier at a grocery store, my dentist or the person who attends the recycling bin at my county landfill.

Similarly, every audience I speak to receives a strong dose of my appreciation, no matter how many people it includes. When co-workers attend one of your safety and health meetings or training sessions, you should do the same. Let them know how much you appreciate their attention, which is difficult to get nowadays in our overstimulated world.

Appreciate yourself, too

That’s right – you can show yourself appreciation. You’re not being egotistical or inwardly boastful. It’s more a matter of recognizing the positive aspects of who you are and what you do. An example: When I make a smart decision, such as going to bed early, I appreciate my good judgment in opting for the benefits I’ll gain from getting quality sleep.

Appreciating a behavior makes it more likely to be repeated. Another benefit: It feels good to show appreciation.

So, in conclusion, I’d like to express my appreciation for the precious time you’ve taken to read “All About You.” If my ideas and encouragement have helped you, please let me know and tell me why. It’ll give me great pleasure to read your comments.

This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Hawk helps leaders inspire employees to care more about their safety and health so “nobody gets hurt.” He also has a long history of success getting safety leaders to increase their influence and make safety fun. For more than 35 years, Richard’s safety keynotes, training sessions, books and “Safety Stuff” e-zine have made a positive difference in the safety and health field. Learn more about how Richard can improve your employees’ safety performance at makesafetyfun.com.

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