Show Appreciation

For the past few years, a friend of mine has been mentoring a disadvantaged high school student. Thanks to his guidance, the mentee grew tremendously and was recently accepted into several prestigious colleges pending graduation. However, when asked by the program whether he wanted to continue the mentor-mentee relationship into college, my friend politely declined.

Why did he decline? Simply put, the mentee showed a complete lack of appreciation for my friend’s time and effort.

Showing appreciation is so critical to dealing with others that Dale Carnegie devoted an entire chapter to it in How to Win Friends and Influence People. In that chapter, Carnegie explained that everyone desires to be important. A common (and healthy) way to achieve a sense of importance is by helping other people and being recognized for it through appreciation.

Meanwhile, no one is an island. Help from others is a prerequisite to having a successful career, whether it be from your boss, your direct reports, your family, etc. If you have trouble showing genuine appreciation for the help that you receive, you are removing the strongest incentive for others to help you.

The deepest principle of human nature is a craving to be appreciated.

William James

If showing appreciation is key to receiving help and we need the help of others to lead successful careers, why do we struggle with it? I am convinced that it is our egos that get in the way. We want to believe that we accomplished everything on our own. We think achieving things on our own makes us important. And we are afraid that acknowledging the role of others in our accomplishments will diminish them and ourselves by extension. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Unlike my friend’s mentee, another friend spent his final afternoon at a hospital thanking all 30 doctors he worked for and letting them know about a small donation he had made in each of their names. Do you think those doctors are more or less likely to write him letters of recommendation in the future? (Rhetorical question.)

Kill your ego and cultivate a habit of not only feeling genuine appreciation for the help that you receive, but also expressing it – publicly and privately. Not only is it the “right” thing to do and costs you nothing, you’ll be amazed by how much more eager people are to help you.

Photo by Aaron Burden

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Awesome post. The importance of gratitude is lost upon many! The person who gives gratitude might even benefit more than the person who receives it… Gratitude brings positive emotions to oneself, a sense of thankfulness for the things received, and a deeper connection with others. So weird that it doesn’t really “cost” anything to give but is still difficult for many to do so.

  2. Fantastic lesson here about the circle of respect and paying it forward. Learning and growing is a fantastic feeling and priceless in its benefits – showing that you appreciate it returns some of the favor and also humbles you at the same time. This promotes the sharing of knowledge and resources.

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