It really isn’t so hard to show appreciation


In the Korean drama Dalja’s Spring (2007), there’s a scene where the female lead puts in tons of effort to prepare for the birthday celebration of her boyfriend. And her lover reciprocates her effort with a single comment: “The dress that you are wearing does not suit you.” It’s amazing that an entire day of effort is rewarded with one devastatingly hurtful statement.

While it’s been said that we should not allow our temperaments to be dictated by the comments of others, comments and criticisms from others do affect all of us to a certain extent one way or another. After all, all of us – both introverts and extroverts alike- look forward to social interaction. It’s just the degree of interaction that varies. Therefore, acceptance in our social groups is an important component to our well-being.

It’s therefore regrettable that few people in life give others compliments. In fact, on the contrary, many criticise and reject. For some, rejecting and criticising is their way of life. For others, putting someone down seems to give them a sense of superiority. This is especially prevalent in the workplace, where ideas are often shot down completely before much thought is given to its feasibility.

While it is true that we should offer our thoughts and comments to improve on the ideas of others, it is equally important that we try to retain certain aspects of the original ideas as long as they are acceptable. Personally, I will strive to retain at least 50 percent of the person’s original work. However, in real life, the idea often gets discarded. The final product often ends up being an entirely different version, and provides a vision that is completely different from the originator of the ideas.

Assuming that we have the authority to put someone’s idea down, we should try our best to salvage whatever is workable in the original version first. This is because the individual who has come up with the idea has put in time and effort in it. More importantly, rejecting the idea outright will convey a rather negative message, which is “You are wrong, and I am right”, “I am better than you” etc. Now, if we were to completely reject someone’s idea and then provide our take on the ideas, do you think the person will accept our contributions? 

So, acceptance must come first.

As an educator, I always believe in encouraging the heart. To my students, I never fail to add a note of encouragement in the daily lessons, no matter how they have done in the lessons.  And I always acknowledge and accept their responses while guiding them to explore issues in the lessons from different perspectives. I feel that it’s not only important that the students have a sense of acceptance in class, they should be encouraged by the educators as well. Unfortunately, it is often not the case in the workplace, where rejections and criticism by supervisors are common.   

I have a friend who was conversing with his fellow colleague and myself once. Upon noticing the unique jade bracelet that she is wearing, he complimented her on how the colour of the bracelet complements the colour of her blouse. And that put a smile on her face for quite a while. And their rapport gradually grew stronger since that day.

Such is the impact of showing a sign of appreciation.  

Throw “rejection” and “criticism” out of the window, not someone’s idea.


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