As young children, praise guides and develops our principles for life – teaching us the difference between right and wrong and encouraging us to shoot for the stars. Remember when you got a good grade in school and the first thing you wanted to do was run home and tell your parents. Or when you’d finally saved up enough to get your first car and the first thing you wanted to do was drive to your friend’s house and show them. How did it feel to get that pat on the back, to be told well done or hear the excitement in your friend’s voice as you pulled up?
Proud? Excited? Motivated? Maybe you felt on top of the world! There are many words you could use and the likelihood is that we’d all describe the feeling slightly differently, but however you choose to describe it, it’s likely to be rooted in positive emotion. It’s important to remember that it’s not just children who grow with praise; as adults we do too. Of course, that praise will look and feel different. You may not find yourself physically jumping up and down in celebration as frequently, but we still experience that pleasure when someone recognises our efforts and achievements.
‘The deepest craving of human nature is the craving to be appreciated’ - William James
In a survey by the American Psychological Association most people said their organisation had some kind of recognition scheme. However, more than a third of respondents had not received any recognition in the last year and less than half felt that recognition was provided fairly. As an individual you can have a significant impact by taking the time to recognise the achievements of your colleagues; it not only makes them feel good but it will have a wider effect on the culture. Your actions can boost morale and motivation, creating an environment of colleagues who feel confident and valued, and who will seek to build others up too.
Emotions are contagious; positivity fosters positivity. When you recognise the success of others it creates a positive feedback loop of positive thinking which can boost your own self-esteem, energy levels and confidence. Research has shown that people who celebrate others are more grateful, happier and have lower stress levels. Furthermore, actively looking for opportunities to celebrate others will allow you to learn new things, identify alternate paths to achieving your own goals and develop bonds with others. Therefore, recognising your colleagues’ efforts also helps you increase the likelihood of your own success!
‘Celebrate the success of others. High tide floats all ships.’ - Susan Elizabeth Philips
So how can we celebrate others effectively?
1. Think Small
Success doesn’t have to be a huge thing, such as exceeding targets or getting a promotion. Less obvious achievements deserve recognition too! Perhaps your colleague learnt a new skill, gave time to support a new employee or simply consistently produces good work. Look out for your colleagues’ smaller successes and celebrate them as you would for the bigger ones.
2. Be mindful
There are many ways to celebrate others but be mindful of your colleagues’ preferences. An introvert isn’t likely to enjoy a moment where all eyes are on them and its not a great idea to gift a bottle of wine to a person who doesn’t drink alcohol. The key is to understand your colleagues and what motivates them, that way you can celebrate appropriately, fairly and with lasting impact.
3. Be authentic
Celebrating others is a great way to strengthen bonds and build relationships. Being authentic in your tone and delivery of celebration will make you stand out from a crowd of superficial support, they will be able to tell who really means it! If they’ve posted their achievement on social media, why not inbox them a congratulatory message instead of just being another comment lost on the thread?
Celebrating others has a positive impact on everybody involved and it is because of our individual contributions that a team can share in group accomplishments. We need each other to succeed, and celebration is unifying!