Many of us are feeling the pinch every day. More demands. More burnout. More stress.

The antidote, in large part, is a simple one: appreciation.

When you feel appreciated, odds are that you'll enjoy your job more, do your best work, and feel the kind of engagement that really connects you to what you're doing. But for whatever reason, even if you know you're doing a great job, you may not be feeling the gratitude. It is time to look within.

To tap into your own source of appreciation, spend some time with these questions:

1. Am I showing appreciation for others?

If you want people to act a certain way toward you, start acting that way toward others. Begin by recognizing the accomplishments of your team members and colleagues. Stop by their office or send them an email (and copy it to their boss). Make appreciation part of your everyday conversation and make it a priority to notice what others are doing right. Start by thinking about your own team. Ask yourself: "What is it that each of them uniquely brings to the table?"

2. Am I really listening?

Our internal filters can really skew our reality. For example, someone can tell you "great work" and you reply offhandedly, "Oh, that was easy, no big deal" and promptly forget the whole conversation. Often we're much more likely to take criticism to heart than praise. And then it becomes circular--because when we shut ourselves off from appreciation, people tend not to express it to us. The next time someone praises you, even slightly, make it a point of taking in the appreciation and thanking them for it. Stay open to whatever appreciation is there.

3. Who have you told lately?

If your managers and colleagues have no idea what you're doing all day--the things you've struggled with and overcome, the innovations you've made--how can they know to acknowledge it? Make sure communication channels are open and your boss actually knows what you're working on and where the challenges are. Discuss your contributions in a way that is genuine and meaningful, focusing on the work and the organization, not yourself.

4. Am I just too awesome? (Seriously.)

It's possible that you're making it look too easy--that you're perceived as a whiz who couldn't possibly need to hear encouragement or appreciation. The more reliable you are, the less you complain, the more likely you are to be taken for granted. If you always meet deadlines, if you never lose your temper, if you're always prepared, people may overlook your efforts. In this case, all you need to do is change your perspective--recognizing that their behavior toward you is itself a subtle compliment.

5. How can I reward myself?

Maintaining a good work-life balance can be hard, but never underestimate the importance of giving back to yourself. Give yourself credit where it's due, and find ways to reward yourself with more meaning and happiness in your life

Above all, remember that appreciation starts from within.

Next time you're feeling unappreciated or taken for granted, make a list of all the things you appreciate about yourself and are grateful for.

Take a few moments at the end of the day to ask yourself, "What can I rightly feel proud of today?" If you are committed to constant self-improvement, you can follow up by asking, "What could I do better tomorrow?"

Both of these questions can help you feel better about yourself and your work--without your needing to depend on anyone else.

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Published on: Nov 10, 2014
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