What’s in a word? It depends on the word really. I have a client who frequently tells me “I appreciate you.” Remember, that I’m paid by this person for a service. There’s no real reason why, in addition to showing me appreciation by paying me, he should tell me he appreciates me also. But, he does and it always makes me feel good. It also makes me like him a lot, think of him more often and go the extra mile.
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” – Voltaire
I came to find out that this particular client is a cancer survivor. Gnarly, should have killed him cancer. He sees life differently. He sees business differently. The formalities of the agent/client relationship don’t mean anything to him. He sees the hard work and recognizes it in real time. By that I mean time that neither of us will ever get the time back. I speculate that this is probably because he has seen the boundary where time stops, and he may never get another chance to express to someone that they mean something to him.
I don’t crave appreciation, or at least I don’t think I do. But, when I feel appreciated I know I like it. And when someone actually uses those words “I appreciate you,” it’s so direct as to be disarming. But, only because so few actually do it. We tip, we bonus, we say thank you and those things are great, but I don’t think they totally fulfill us on an emotional level.
Saying to someone “I appreciate you” is getting naked. It’s exposing yourself. It’s like telling someone “I love you.” Do they appreciate me back? Will they say so? It’s a risk, but telling someone how you feel about them to that depth is not about you, it’s about them. As a statement of true feeling, it’s unconditional. It just is.
“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that’s necessary.” – Elizabeth Cousins
Now, I don’t want everyone to start telling me they appreciate me. That’s not the point here. My point is that I have come to believe there is a place in business for telling people you appreciate them. Not in roundabout ways, but honestly and in the most direct way possible. And not just to say it, but to really notice and really feel it.
Think about it. Even the most grizzled Dolly Grip wouldn’t mind hearing how much you appreciate his hard work and expertise. If I had to say, I suspect most problems on the set boil down to crew members feeling that their contribution (no matter how small or large) goes unnoticed or unappreciated. This tends to boomerang back in the form of slower working pace and a hesitancy to grant any favors beyond the shop rules.
We’ve all had teachers, parents or mentors that we felt could see us, really see us for who we are and what talents we bring to bear. That propelled us forward and made us feel we have value. And in turn made us valuable. That was them appreciating us. How far would it go if we became the ones who lifted people up by telling them “I appreciate you.”