The discomfort of appreciation

Appreciation goes a long way, and yet for many receiving it feels uncomfortable. People don’t know where to look, they want you to stop talking as quickly as possible, or to move the conversation on to something easier!

When you appreciate someone, you really see them.

Often my role with teams, and individuals, is to challenge them, to build an experience so that they can learn something about themselves, about their own leadership style, about each other. Often trying things which are uncomfortable, or new, is where the real learning and growth is.

The Appreciation Loop is a great tool to try. It is a hugely powerful tool to use with your team or group, you can make it very specific, appreciation related to a project, to leadership, or a strategy day.

- Form a circle with your colleagues, seated or standing.
- Choose who goes first.
- First person turn to your colleague and tell them what you appreciate about them.
- He/she receives the appreciation, and says thank you, nothing else.
- Then he/she turns to the next person and does the same.
- When you get back to the first person, repeat in the other direction so everyone has the opportunity to give appreciation and receive it.

Try not to rush it, even if it feels uncomfortable.

Don’t make up that this won’t work with your colleagues. That it’s too personal, or ‘we just don’t do things like that’! I have used this with engineers to recruiters, executive boards to groups who have only known each other a few hours, men and women, just men, just women.

It tells you a lot about your own leadership style - do you find it difficult to receive appreciation and praise, or perhaps you find it hard to give appreciation, is giving feedback easier when it’s about focusing on what’s not working rather than what is.

It’s good information to know about yourself, and then you can make a choice about your leadership. And the best way to know is to experience it, to try it.

Appreciation goes a very long way.

Time and time again individuals and teams take this tool from a workshop with me and embed it, continue to use it. Workshops are to experience and learn, the best ones you take the tools with you into your everyday life. This is one tool I wanted to share, more to come...

Sally Powell MA PCC is a Leadership Coach and Trainer, and co-founder of Art User. Sally is passionate about helping others to realise their full potential, and knows the power that amazing conversations can have on unlocking new perspectives and transforming lives.

Thank you to Pau Casals for his photo, on Unsplash

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