I’m sure you may have heard a phrase similar to “People often don’t appreciate something until it’s gone.” I, for one, am guilty of doing this with both people and possessions. When I watched Mike Robbins speak about the power of appreciation during his TED Talk, it resonated with me on many levels.
Growing up the youngest of three kids, my family was constantly on the go – baseball games, volleyball tournaments, sleepovers, birthday parties, beach days, and more. All the while my parents were cooking a hot breakfast every day before school, helping with homework every day after, and working full-time jobs. Often times I find myself wondering how they did it all. As I continue my adventure into adulthood and gain a new-found understanding of life in general, I still don’t have that answer and wonder if I will ever find it. What I do know, is I appreciate them now more than I ever did before.
As I reflect on the last year, there were many things I failed to realize the true value of until they were abruptly missing from life. In the wake of the pandemic, I found a new appreciation for such small things as I could no longer do them. The simple things I never knew I was taking for granted, I now appreciate so much more.
The same is true in the realm of work. Working remotely, I learned how important it is to feel valued and appreciated. Recognition and appreciation are both forms of gratitude, but are also vastly different in their true meaning and purpose.
Recognition and Appreciation: What’s the Difference
Appreciation and recognition are often confused, and there’s a slight distinction between the two. Appreciation is about who someone is, and recognition is about what someone has done. The key difference is that appreciation is a way to show gratitude for a person’s value, whereas recognition is showing gratitude for their actions.
Consider this example: your team member just presented a proposal to the leadership team. After the meeting, you tell them, “You did an excellent job on that presentation. The materials were organized, you facilitated questions with ease, and we got the approval we needed. Great work!” This scenario focuses on what the team member accomplished and, in turn, is an example of recognition.
Here is another: your team has been working with you for some time now. In a team huddle, you speak up to tell them “I truly value the time and commitment you put in for the team. Having you with us means a great deal and you are valuable and important to us.” This acknowledgement aligns with personal qualities which shows appreciation, not a tangible accomplishment that they have succeeded in.
Both appreciation and recognition are important aspects to demonstrating gratitude, but they are different and serve unique purposes. We often rely on recognition to express gratitude in response to a person’s performance or accomplishments, but appreciation is just as important. It is discussed time and time again that showing appreciation builds the foundation for people to feel more valued as a person. This can then drive engagement, build relationships, propel them to do their best work, etc. It is obvious why appreciation also needs to be our focus, but how do we make that happen?