The Leader's Digest

How to Give Honest and Sincere Appreciation

If you do this you will stand out above everyone else. People will be drawn to you and want to help you.

How to Give Honest and Sincere Appreciation

What is Honest and Sincere Appreciation?

You may find that in many of Dale Carnegie’s principles he often uses words that mean the same thing but we should probably give him the benefit of the doubt as we wouldn’t want to miss an important but subtle meaning.

In this principle at first glance you might think that honest and sincere have the same meaning. However when you look closely you will see that if something is honest it is true, not false. Whereas you could give someone a compliment that is true but you are not grateful for it. For instance you could compliment someone on what a good driver they are without benign appreciative of the fact.

Why is this important? We can all think of good qualities people have but giving this feedback without the gratitude is the difference between merely listing someone’s features and truly making that person feel valued.

The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.

William James

Why be appreciative?

As with many of the principles we won’t go on at length about why people want to be appreciated or feel important. We can all agree they just do. But why should we acknowledge this and try to make someone feel important. With the first principle (Don’t Criticise Condemn or Complain) the reason is obvious, when you criticise you reduce a person. Appreciating them however will build them up.

If you’ve ever watched ‘Undercover Boss’ on TV you’ll notice that the bit that makes people break down and cry are not when they’re given a bonus, raise or an all expenses paid trip. It’s when the boss recognises their opinion and asks them to come to head office and lead a task force on some issue that they really break down in tears of joy and relief. Because finally someone has recognised something in them and appreciated them. This alone should give you reason to take this up as a daily practise.

In business as a leader or manager the reason you should praise and appreciate is that you will encourage your staff to do more, be more efficient, be more creative and more enthusiastic. Which ultimately will make your business perform better.

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Charles Schwab at 38 in 1921 was one of the first people to be paid over $1,000,000 a year because as he says in the book:

I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors. I never criticise anyone. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.

That’s what an exceptional person does but what does an average person do? The exact opposite. If they don’t like a thing, they complain; if they do like it, they say nothing. An old saying goes:

Once I did bad and that I heard ever. Twice I did good, but that I heard never.

Typical manager behaviour. Why would we find it harder to give someone a compliment than chastise them? Who knows, but we can recognise it as true. It's just easier to complain at the people in our lives than compliment them.

How much do you want to bet that lack of appreciation is one of the driving factors in employee turnover? One of the most costly processes in a business.

What’s more, being grateful and appreciative does more than just effect the recipient psychological studies have shown that it also improves ourself.

How to be Appreciative

Find the Silver Lining

If someone makes a mistake try looking at it from a different angle. There's a famous story told about Tom Watson, the founder of IBM. One of his subordinates had made a major mistake that had cost the company $10,000,000. When called into Watson's office, the fellow said "I suppose you want my resignation." Watson looked at him and replied: "Are you kidding? We just spent ten million dollars training you."

Rockefeller found something to praise when a colleague lost money on an investment; he congratulated him for not losing everything and being able to save 60% of the money he had invested.

Commit to Doing It and Practise

Carnegie claims we spend 95% of our time thinking about ourselves and maybe that's why we have such a hard time appreciating people. We rarely ever think about anyone else. Criticism comes easier because we are preoccupied with defending our own situation or eager to pass blame on quickly.

Because people find it so hard to find good qualities in others, on our course we provide an aid to help people. This is a list of qualities, look through the list and think of people who embody that quality. Then tell them! If you find it hard to do face to face then email or text is fine to start with.

Make Sure You Give Evidence

Don’t just fire off an email telling someone they’re enthusiastic, that can be seen as flattery. Whenever you praise someone make sure to give an example of when they exhibited that quality.

Keep a Ledger

Stephen Covey talks about the emotional bank account. Everyone has an “Account” that we either deposit or withdraw from based on how we treat them.

You might find this a bit over the top but it might help if you made a list of everyone important in your life or all the people on your team for instance and then make a mark against their name whenever you give them praise or a compliment.

Develop a Habit of Doing It Immediately

The easy way is to praise someone the moment something happens that deserves appreciation. This way you can be sure it’s sincere because it’s coming almost straight from your subconscious. Once you get the habit you’ll barely know you’re doing it. Then you don't have to spend time and effort at some later point going over things in your head, which we have already discovered we all find difficult. And the way to get a habit is to practise every day. What does practise make? Permanent.

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