Whether we admit it or not, we all want to be appreciated for who we are and what we do. It’s natural and human to appreciate appreciation. Unfortunately, this very human need is rarely fully met in the workplace. Not feeling appreciated at work is indeed one of the main reasons why people search for a better job or a different career. While the level of appreciation we receive at work seems to depend on company culture and leadership style, there are five powerful steps you can take to feel more appreciated right away.
Step #1 Become Aware of What Makes You Feel Appreciated
In a recent coaching session, we looked at ways my client (let’s call her Iris) could influence how appreciated she felt at work. What was within her control? To begin with we identified the key elements that helped her feel appreciated at work. For Iris these turned out to be good connection and healthy boundaries. Other clients have identified trust, positivity, flexibility, respect, and authenticity as key elements for feeling appreciated at work.
How about you? What are the key elements that help you feel appreciated? Take a moment to jot your chosen key elements on a blank sheet of paper.
Step #2 Notice What You Can Easily Do to Feel More Appreciated
“What specifically could you do to establish or maintain good connections at work?” I asked Iris. Iris thought about this question for a moment and then responded. “I could engage in conversations to get to know people on a personal level. When I run into a problem, I could ask for help. I could incorporate more humour into interactions at work. A good laugh always makes me feel connected.” As Iris reflected further on these ideas, she realized that they felt easy, even fun. It felt empowering and Iris was excited to act on her insights.
Over to you! What specifically could YOU do to grow your key appreciation elements? Jot down your initial ideas next to the elements you put on your blank sheet of paper. Awareness of the possibilities is indeed a very powerful step towards positive change. Notice which of your own ideas seem easy to implement. Starting with easy, fun action steps is a great way to build momentum and create some positive changes right away.
Step #3 Notice Which Appreciation Elements Require More Courage
Next, I asked Iris: “What specifically could you do to set and maintain healthy boundaries at work?” “That’s tricky!” Iris responded. “I’ve always just done whatever is expected of me. Sort of like a slave, glued to my desk, worried that I may miss something, if I took a break.” I acknowledged Iris’ self-awareness and encouraged her to brainstorm a few ideas that she could potentially do, even if she had no idea how.
After a few moments of silence, Iris shared. “If I wasn’t so scared, I could take my breaks, I could leave on time, I could refuse to deal with e-mail and phone messages after hours. This all really means standing up for myself and being clear and direct about my needs. I’ve never done this at work.” I acknowledged Iris’ courage to contemplate possibilities that felt so out of reach.
You too may have chosen some elements where making changes feels completely out of your comfort zone. YEAH for YOU, if you did! Before you read any further, take a moment to contemplate what you could do if you weren’t too scared and jot down your courageous ideas.
Step #4 Draw on Positive Experience from Other Parts of Your Life
Then I asked, if there was any other part of her life where Iris was already in the habit of standing up for herself. She immediately responded with a resounding YES. Iris explained that she always stood up for herself in her friendships. “My friends don’t always respond positively right away, but I know and trust that they will get used to it and they always do. They respect my boundaries.” Together we celebrated Iris’ ease with establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries in her personal life. “How can you transfer your awesome skill into the work setting?” I asked. Iris paused for a while and then realized that building those connections we talked about earlier may help. I congratulated Iris on this insight and asked how she might act on it.
Before you continue reading, take a moment to look at your sheet of paper and notice where in your life you are already skilled in your chosen elements. Write down your insights. Then contemplate how you could transfer your skills to the work setting.
Step#5 Get Comfortable with Discomfort
I congratulated Iris on her insight that building connections at work may help her set healthier boundaries. “How might you act on your valuable insight?” I asked.
After a long pause, Iris said: “I guess I could just start taking my breaks, when I come back from my vacation.” I felt the unease in Iris’ voice as she shared this possibility and acknowledged that it’s most likely not going to feel comfortable right away. Then I suggested: “Just like your friends, the people at work may not respond positively right away, but they’ll get used to it.” Iris chuckled.
After I normalized that it was not going to feel completely comfortable at first, and reassured Iris that most change doesn’t feel comfortable initially, I asked: “Have you ever had an experience in another part of your life, where you successfully moved through discomfort?”
Iris immediately recalled that a friend had asked her to join a field hockey team and she agreed even though she hadn’t played in over 15 years. “That first season was painful!” Iris exclaimed. “But it got better in the second season and now I am truly in a groove and love it.” “YEAH for You Iris, for moving through that discomfort and reaping the rewards in the realm of field hockey! How can your powerful experience support you as you take your breaks at work?”
Iris laughed out loud. “That will be easy! I’ll just put a picture of our field hockey team on my work phone as a reminder that it’s okay to be uncomfortable.”
How about YOU? What will help you get comfortable with discomfort as you implement your courageous action steps?
Take another Powerful Step
Just like Iris you don’t have to travel alone on your courageous journey towards career clarity. Now that you have created a powerful plan on how to feel more appreciated at work, take another powerful step and request your free career clarity consultation.