Let’s Give People More Feedback and Appreciation for Their Work.

I’ve realized that people’s expectations largely govern how they treat us.

If there isn’t an expectation already set, providing value is likely to be met with positive feedback and appreciation. People who make educational videos are a good example; people aren’t necessarily expecting certain things from them.

Rather, they create a video and put it out for free. If it’s good, people find it get value from it – value they weren’t expecting to be provided before discovering it. As a result, they’re delighted and will often say so.

But what about the person who runs your apartment complex? They have a tough enough job just meeting expectations. When you pay your rent, you expect to get a safe, temperature controlled home. You expect your neighbors to be nice. You expect the complex pool to be open when you want to swim.

When one of those things isn’t fulfilled… well, that’s the only time you think about your apartment manager. And it’s in the context of your expectations not being fulfilled. People in a job like this basically have two states – being ignored, because they’ve done a good job and that’s the status quo, or getting negative feedback, because something has gone wrong.

It’s the same with people who work on our infrastructure. You’re not delighted when the roads you drive on are in good condition. That’s the norm. That’s how it’s supposed to be. But when there’s a big pothole…

As a result, I think it’s good to remember this:

Our default ways of treating people are based on our expectations of their jobs.

So many people work in areas where a good job goes unnoticed, and the only thing that ever does get noticed is a screw-up. Where the only feedback is negative. Where appreciation is almost nonexistent.

So here’s to the people who do the work that goes unappreciated. Here’s to the people who only ever get noticed when something goes wrong. The fact that I spend the vast majority of my days not dealing with things going wrong means you’re doing a great job. I appreciate you so much, and you just don’t get told that enough.

If you’re reading this, I challenge you make it your mission today to tell someone who works behind the scenes that their work is appreciated.

Tell your garbageman thank you. Tell the person who manages your apartment complex that you appreciate all the crap she puts up with. Thank a farmer, a teacher, a road worker, or anyone who works hard to make your life better.

Thomas Frank is the geek behind College Info Geek. After paying off $14K in student loans before graduating, landing jobs and internships, starting a successful business, and travelling the globe, he's now on a mission to help you build a remarkable college experience as well. Get the Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram

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3 Comments:
  1. Great post Thomas, thank you.

    During a listening workshop recently, I shared my story of getting free coffees simply by engaging with the Barista. As luck would have it, in the group was an ex Barista. He was brilliant. He does his best for the whole of his shift to engage, be up beat, be interested in the Customer. By the end of the day, he is feeling drained, not because he is tired of standing on his feet all day or even serving coffee, but he receives little or no engagement, feedback or appreciation from the Customers. Sadly, he said, that even if a person is nice to me at the end of the day, I may be too far gone to respond similarly.

    I feel it is simply rude, not to give your attention to the person who is serving you, period. The lovely part of engaging apart from the free coffee, (sometimes), is that I feel good about it too. On a metaphysical level, the coffee tastes better too, because the Barista has put his heart into it too.

    Colin
    AKA The Listener

  2. Thank YOU for an incredible post. It’s true we need to appreciate the people around us more.

  3. This is a quietly profound message. I make it a point to recognize the people who go unrecognized and those who make the world work simply by doing their jobs impeccably. They are the unsung heroes of our existence. We depend on them and we often forget them. Let us never do that again!

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