Sweet Talk

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Welcome to February! The shortest month of the year, but one that many people have big feelings about since it contains the most “Hallmark Holiday” of all… Valentine’s Day! I for one, love Valentine’s Day. I love sweet moments or grand gestures, even when they are manufactured. But the real reason for my V Day fandom is because it gives people a socially acceptable, societally prompted way to let others know they matter.

When we coach and train managers, there are a couple of topics we can always expect to get a lot of pushback on. One of those is providing “praise” (acknowledging effort or success). The people who balk at this usually express one of the following reasons:

  • they are worried that telling people they are doing a good job will make them complacent (just let the irony of that sink in for a moment) or
  • they feel like it’s going to take a lot of their time, or
  • they think it simply isn’t necessary, believing people either already know they are appreciated (they don’t) and it doesn’t matter to them (it does), or
  • they believe a paycheck is acknowledgement enough (yes, there are people who really believe that).

While I want to validate that their feelings are real, these aren’t actually rooted in reality.

People need to hear they are doing a good job and making a difference. This is particularly important in the workplace. Since work gets so much of our energy, it’s nice to know that our efforts don’t go unnoticed. It also creates a culture of encouragement, where people can stretch beyond their current capacity, with a chance to be and do more.

So, what are some ways we can begin to let others know they matter?

  1. Become a strengths spotter: even your most difficult employee has strengths they bring to the table, so start noticing those! Perhaps they always encourage others to give input, or they have a perfect attendance record. Find what’s good about someone and build on it.
  2. Catch people doing things right: look for little moments where things are going well and acknowledge them; for example, when everyone on the production floor is focused and busy or the meeting was particularly productive and respectful.
  3. Be a good listener: one of the most underrated ways to show we care about others and value what they say is actually listening to them. This displays respect and allows you to learn what matters to them (win-win).
  4. Make time for your employees: where we spend our time is a clear indication of what matters to us. Team meetings, huddles, and one on ones are all opportunities to develop and maintain relationships with the members of your team.

You might be one of those people who cares deeply about your folks and notices what they contribute, but just doesn’t quite know how to put it into words. Don’t despair!

Here are a few phrases to get you started:

You did a great job with ____________.

Thank you so much for all your hard work with ____________.

I am so glad you are part of the team.

I’d love to hear your opinion/thoughts/ideas on ____________.

Would you be willing to share your expertise with this?

We all have the opportunity to speak good into others’ lives and letting people know they matter is one of the one of the best ways to do so. Embrace Valentine’s Day as an easy opportunity to express appreciation for the people who work with, for, and around you, but don’t let it end there. Make it a practice of letting others know they are valued and be the person who makes everybody feel like a somebody.