Acknowledgment: accept or admit the existence or truth of something.
Appreciation: the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.
One day walking down the hallway of the hospital, I saw the Chief Nursing Executive stoop down and pick up a piece of stray garbage. I sensed by the way she carried herself, and that bit of paper to the trash, this small action held great value. It was a moment for her to do her good work.
You do good work all the time, too. Maybe you step in and help someone, even before they ask. Or you hold someone’s hand with a sense that you have all the time in the world, even when you don’t.
Your good work comes from a place deep inside you. It’s not about what you do, but rather how you go about doing it.
It’s the difference between when someone assists you with a sense of graciousness and when they come with resistance and resentment. One brings ease. The other, well, dis-ease.
What you acknowledge in the good work you and others do, is an appreciation of the inner part of you that showed up. The one that has courage, sensitivity, patience, compassion, humor, out of the box thinking, or goes above and beyond. The list is long.
Is Appreciation and Acknowledgment Good for You?
As it turns out, there is a growing body of research on appreciation and its health benefits. (You’ll find it under Positive Psychology or Gratitude Research.) Robert Emmons’ research asked participants to keep a daily gratitude journal and compared them with those who wrote down the hassles of the day instead.
Those in the gratitude journal group reported better sleep, waking more refreshed, exercised more and felt less of their usual daily aches and pains. Even blood pressure went down for some. Emotionally, they felt more energetic, enthused and attentive. On top of that, they were 25% happier and reached out to help others more than the group that focused on hassles.
But many people find accepting acknowledgements difficult or uncomfortable. And instead of taking in the recognition, we might say, “I was just doing my job.”
But here’s the thing, There is no “just” in front of anything you do with intention, thoughtfulness and compassion.
Bringing this to work with (and for) you
Seek out others to acknowledge and cultivate a culture of appreciation. When you appreciate someone else’s good work, call it out. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A natural, “I so appreciated when you did ______,” will work. Naming the action you appreciated and how it made you feel (e.g. supported, lighter, eased, humored) or the inner quality they showed (e.g. compassion, quick thinking) adds power to your acknowledgment.
Acknowledging the small gains a person makes in their healing process helps them to appreciate these as important steps in the bigger picture. It keeps their hearts and minds engaged rather than getting sunk into feeling nothing has changed.
And you? Practice taking in when someone appreciates you. This can be as simple as taking a breath in and offering back a smile or “thanks for saying that.” And even if the moment is uncomfortable, keep breathing and taking it in. By doing this you won’t be tempted to dissipate their gift or take the focus off of you, which can happen when you immediately look for something nice to say back. They want you to receive their appreciation.
My Chief Nursing Executive didn’t know I was watching her. But her simple act filled me with great appreciation; for her, our housekeeping staff and all the others who take a moment to show they care.
True appreciation and acknowledgement have the power to lift you up and fuel your passions. Given freely and skillfully, it’s a celebration of your own or someone else’s good work.
I’d love to do that for you. Really. It’s so important to mine the gold of your good work. And discover ways it can naturally emerge even more. I’ve set aside Monday afternoons as Appreciation Time. Click here to sign up!
And as always, much love to you and the good work you do,