I am not someone who thinks I need a lot of affirmation that I do a good job at work. I have been at it for many years, and I know what I am doing when I go to do my day job (the specifics of which we never ever discuss here, you may recall...).
So, something surprised me the other day.
First, someone from outside my office, whose work I respect a lot, said really nice things about some particular efforts of mine. And then, the next day, a very high-ranking official in my field (can you tell I am being purposely vague?) gave my efforts over the years in front of him and his peers a more global, far-reaching compliment when we happened to be riding on the same elevator. The first was cool. The second was completely unexpected, and, consequently, whatever better than "cool" is, especially considering the source.
And it got me to thinking....
A really genuine compliment -- particularly from someone who is an esteemed member of his or her field -- is a truly valuable thing.
Most of us toil away at our chosen path in life without a whole lot of positive feedback. Yeah, there are job-performance evaluations and the like. But those are often bullshit forms filled out only because some bullshit bureaucrat said they should be. A positive review like that means little to the recipient.
But it's different when the Big Kahuna, whoever that may be in a particular field -- you know, the Man or Woman in Charge of Everything -- takes time out of his or her busy day to say something genuinely complimentary to a non-peer. I think it's even more special when that person only occasionally hands out that kind of praise.
So.... Be aware of this fact, Mr. or Ms. Big Cheese: a really genuine compliment matters. No, don't go handing out praise left and right. That just cheapens the whole deal, and is as meaningless as that fake smile you get from the realtor (or teller or whomever) as they tell you, "Thanks *so* much," for something trivial. But when you see someone, particularly below you on the ladder of your profession, really kicking ass on a regular basis, tell that person that you appreciate his or her efforts. Do so in a real and genuine way. And you will make the world a little better, more-caring place. You may also truly brighten that person's day, week or month. And what's better than that?
Because, as a fairly common Internet meme tells us, almost everyone is struggling with something that's invisible to most of us. So, when it's appropriate, try and lighten people's loads by letting them know that their hard work is appreciated. It could be more important to them than a paycheck. Really.
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