Published - November 2007

By Dave Jakielo

Use the Appreciation Grid

Many of you may know that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is an opportunity to count our blessings with family and friends. It’s a day where first we stuff the turkey and then we stuff ourselves.

The day includes the Macy’s parade, football, pumpkin pie, and best of all, we don’t have to buy presents for anyone (although I recommend taking a gift for your host or hostess).

While this may be the one official day set aside to reflect and be thankful for our bounty (and this country’s bounty is plentiful—we spent 10.2 billion dollars on bottled water last year!), we should not limit our giving of thanks to the fourth Thursday of every November. Rather being thankful should be a daily event.

How many times on a daily basis do we really make the effort to tell someone we are thankful for what they do for us? Successful people always make time to tell others how much they appreciate their efforts and to compliment them for a job well done. Whether it’s one of our employees, co-workers, friends, or family, it’s important not to fall into the trap of taking people for granted.

In today’s busy business environment, it is easy for us to run out of day before we run out of work. However, that doesn’t mean we get a free pass from our responsibility to let others know how much we appreciate them. Here’s an easy way to get into the habit.

The Appreciation Habit
Take the time to thank or praise a minimum of three people per day. After 30 days it will become second nature and you will have formed a great new habit. To help yourself remember, create what I call an “Appreciation Grid.” This is a simple Excel spreadsheet that is easy to maintain. Create a file in Excel and across the top of the spreadsheet put the days of the month 1- 31. Down the left hand column put the names of everyone you come in contact with on a regular basis. Don’t just list folks at work but friends and family too.

Then every time you thank or praise someone on your list, put a check mark in the appropriate numbered column, and every time you give them negative feedback put an X. You will be astonished at how infrequently you thank or praise the people you come into contact with daily.

Keep this chart with you at all times, fill it out religiously, and examine your results at the end of the month. You may think you appreciate the folks that help make you successful, but until you track it you won’t believe how much you take others for granted. If you don’t verbalize your appreciation or give them a written note, they have no idea how much you value their contributions.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when thanking someone:

  • Always be specific about what you are grateful for. Don’t merely thank someone for his or her hard work today; instead point out something unique that the person accomplished. Example: thanks for pitching in on the phones while Mary went to her doctors’ appointment.

  • Be sincere. Folks can tell by your tone of voice and the words you choose if you are really appreciative.

  • Be time specific. Don’t put off praising someone for a job well done. If the person has left for the day, there is always voice mail or email. If you delay you’ll probably forget to tell them and the checkmarks on your appreciation grid will remain sparse.

To be successful you are going to also have to get in the habit of catching people doing things right. We are all experts at pointing out mistakes but that just creates a negative environment. Start focusing on the good stuff.

In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Stephen Covey states that every negative comment you make to someone should be offset with a minimum of nine positive comments. So get busy and fill up your “Appreciation Grid” with check marks. Then you’ll be able to say you celebrate Thanksgiving everyday.

Dave Jakielo, CHBME, is an international speaker, consultant, executive coach, and author and is president of Seminars & Consulting. Dave is past president of Healthcare Billing and Management Association and the National Speakers Association Pittsburgh Chapter. Sign up for his FREE weekly Success Tips at Dave can be reached via email; phone 412/921-0976.

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