I am checking e-mails when I come across one from a colleague of mine. He and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum in the areas we teach and also have very different social circles within our work environment. However, as we had collaborated ideas at the committee level over the past year, this particular e-mail I opened during summer vacation happened to pop up in my in-box. As expected, the first part of the e-mail was all business, relating directly to a few professional matters at hand. But as my eyes skimmed toward the end of the note, I realized he had included a personal thank you to me, along with a few encouraging comments regarding my contributions in the workplace.
At first, I am taken aback as I re-read this portion of the note. In spite of how refreshing it is to get this feedback, it is also unexpected to read a note, from anyone other than my boss, that highlight positive contributions one has made in the workplace. Sadly, there are very few, myself included, who take the time to call or write, let alone vocalize in person, positive contributions made by fellow employees. This note I received was unprovoked by any offers of incentive and thus did not get any brownie points from those in the administration. It was seen by none other than me. And because it was a spontaneous offering of encouragement, it meant a lot.
The power of a positive comment.
With the adjustments that autumn brings, it is common for many of us to look at the change in season as being a change in routine. Even viewing this transition from summer to fall as a new beginning. It certainly is such for students and parents, but it also can be that as well in the professional world. With summer nearly over, the focus is on buckling down to more of a structure in our day-to-day lives at work and at home. And this newly gained structure means that we are all thinking of ways to re-vamp, re-organize and co-ordinate our lives in new and more effective ways.
As a parent, I love the focus that our schools place on positive affirmation. Our school is reading a book called Have You Filled a Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. The focus in many schools today is on proactive solutions to preventing bullying within the school environment, promoting the power of supportive words and positive actions as a means to ending bullying practices within the school environment. We are doing a good job at thinking and planning for children, but many times we adults miss the golden ticket via the learning opportunities afforded our children.
Filling buckets is not child’s play.
The focus on using encouragement and affirmation to “fill up” the invisible buckets we all carry around with us (vis a vis our self esteem and confidence) is necessary for well-being, vitality and growth within the workplace. When we use our words to build up those around us, there is a direct effect on employee output and workplace happiness. Although this comes naturally within the social circles we naturally interact, it is much harder to make the effort outside that comfort zone. But when e take the time to recognize people other than those who are our intimates and friends, something different happens.
Workplace climate improves for everyone involved. Exponentially. And by pushing ourselves to circulate the positive feedback outside our usual circles within which we naturally socialize, we gain something in return.
The power of making a difference.