ana muenzner

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7 Appreciation opportunities in a day

Journaling is a tool that has helped me a lot to put my thoughts out of my head. Sometimes I do it for just 2 minutes before going to bed as way to reflect on how my day was.

Today I did not intend to do any journaling. I just wanted to go to bed, close my eyes and sleep. I was exhausted. I almost called it a day in which I would have been luckier if I had stayed in bed. But somehow I could not easily sleep. Some thoughts kept my mind busy. Suddenly I caught myself picking up my notebook to write these lines I am sharing with you.

I started the day by taking a taxi with a driver who first stopped at the filling station (I was late) and asked me to pay in advance so that he could drive me to where I wanted to go. Just a few kilometers after that, the car had a break down. I got extremely upset.

Afterwards I decided to have a nice lunch time in a nice and quiet place where I could just enjoy myself while finishing a proposal for a piece of work I was looking forward to doing. I would need internet to do some research and send it by the end of the day as I promised. All of a sudden my mobile internet was down and the internet of the restaurant stopped working immediately after I bought some vouchers. Just a couple of minutes ago I saw a couple of people with their laptops on the table using internet, the waiter said. Ok, no internet… at least for now… let’s wait and see. Someone went to check on the problem (1).

At least the lunch was perfect! If it wasn’t for the bill that was higher than the money I had in my wallet. Shame on me! When I leave the house in the morning I usually check the money I might need for the day. The big amount of notes of 100 kwacha deceived me. Luckily I found two ladies speaking Portuguese close to me. One of them I had met once. We recognized each other, without remembering the names, and shared the same table. I explained my situation and they gladly paid my bill. Great! At least one positive thing happened so far in my day (2). On the table there was an evaluation form the manager was kindly asking guests to fill up. She reminded us twice but my busy mind did not allow me to give any attention to that (3).

Still I had not yet solved the problem with the internet connection and I had less than two hours to send a reply to my potential client if I wanted to meet the agreed deadline. I started getting quite nervous because even my husband, who uses to be my “hero” in these times, was not picking the phone. Even if he had, he would probably hear the first two words and… pi-pi-pi-pi… the battery was about to die. Now I did not have money and did not have a car to move around to look for an emergency solution. And I could not call my potential client to let him know about the delay.

I started begging the other guests in the restaurant for help. A good willing person offered his mobile internet. I love technology (when it works!). He was sitting at his table and I was accessing internet from his mobile on my computer. I managed to do a bit of work but unfortunately he had to leave (4).

The battery of my mobile died. At least my husband received the SMS that I managed to send just one second before it happened. He came to pick me up and helped me to find a solution for the internet (5). I sent the document five minutes before my deadline. Great!

My energy level was low and I was quite exhausted after expending almost the whole day running after solutions for unexpected events.

My energy level eventually started rising as I met the graduation committee from the OD course and had big laughs during the check-in and the unplanned story telling session (6).

My husband drove me there and waited for me while we were having the meeting. While waiting he bought me a snack I love eating. When I got back home, I put it in the cupboard and said thanks (7).

I was feeling settled by that time but an email made me feel very upset again. Without thinking much I immediately start writing my answer. Somehow I projected in my words all the frustrations of the day.

Let’s call it a day!

In the middle of my writing I turned my head and saw the book of Nancy Kline on my bed table. The book marker was on page 267 in which the author writes about email and other things floating around. She mentions:

“Emails for some reason make us stupid. As we write them we don’t notice the recipient.

We fail to ask ourselves:

How will the recipient feel when they read this?

How might they misinterpret these words?

What might these words do to their self-esteem and their ability to think independently and respectfully in reply?

How do I listen to the recipient as if they were with me?

How can I appreciate them in this message?

These are questions that do not occur to us as we write emails. But they are questions that would occur to us if we were speaking in person.”

I could not agree more and felt bad for what I wrote in the last email of the day. Why was it so easy to express my frustration in that email and all over the day? Why was it so difficult to identify chances to express appreciation for the positive things that have happened?

We learned in the course that OD is a choice; it becomes a way of thinking and living our lives. We cannot use OD principle only during work hours. It becomes part of our everyday life.

If I could start that day again, how could it look like if I had the courage to apply just a few things I have been learning?

Now, pay attention at the number in brackets:

(1)     The person who went to check on the problem was truly interested in helping me and called the manager to call the internet provider, what he immediately did. Even without success, instead of getting upset with the failing, I could have looked at the effort someone was making to help me and said: “It’s a pity it’s not working, but thank you, I really appreciate your effort. Could you help me to find another solution?”

(2)      Instead of politely saying only thank you, I could have expressed in words and, as Brazilians do, with a big hug, my deep admiration for their generosity and spontaneity. It is brilliant when people you don’t know solve a problem for you.  But I even did not register that thought because my mind was busy with other urgent things.

(3)    If I had taken just 5 minutes to answer that evaluation form to say how delicious the food was and how much attention I received from the personal because of my internet problems, I could have helped the restaurant to know more about itself.

(4)    Again, a polite thank you, without any word of recognition for the generosity of a stranger. What about saying: I am really happy for meeting generous people who help strangers in need.

(5)    What about being at ease inside of myself and say “Thank you that you managed to come during your work time to save my day – if it wasn’t for you, I would probably have missed this deadline”. But I even did not say thank you because I was too busy explained what happened.

(6)    Why didn’t I tell them that my energy levels went very high when I met them? That they made me laugh and I could even not think about any frustrating experience of the day anymore?

(7)    I said only thank you again? The simplest gestures make the biggest differences in someone’s life. With time and in a routine we can take kindness for granted and do not sense the difference some people and their attitude make in our lives.

How do I connect it with organizations?

Going back to Nancy Kline’s book (p. 57):

“The human mind thinks more rigorously and creatively in a context of genuine appreciation”

Humans need appreciation to function well. Nancy Klein points to researches from Drs Noelle Nelson, Daniel Amen and Jeannine Calaba that found that more blood flows to the brain, particularly to the cerebellum, cingulated gyrus and the left basal ganglia when we are thinking appreciative thoughts. On the other hand, less blood flows when we are thinking critical thoughts. In the presence of appreciation the rhythm of and pattern of the heart move toward those healthy levels and stimulate the brain to work better. Maybe that explains why I felt at easy when I met the OD group. We quite often exercise appreciation to each other. Researches point that people think better in the presence of appreciation and they stop think in the presence of criticism. To see what is good and say it to others and to ourselves help to produce good thinking and bring people to perform their best. But appreciation has to be succinct, sincere and specific, otherwise people can disbelief and even feel discomfort. Appreciation does not have to be a comment. Asking your subordinate the simple question “What do you think?” is also a way to show your respect for their thinking and appreciate them.

How often do you miss opportunities to let people know how much you appreciate them?

How many chances do you see in a day to appreciate your team, your friends, your family members, etc?

Welcome to share your stories in my blog!

“When we appreciate each other, we think better.

When we think better, we love better.

When we love better, we live netter.”

(Nancy Kline)


1 Comment

Hello world!

This is a blog to share stories about the changes you and I want to see in the world. In the spirit of dialogue, any feedback, reflection, reference to reading material, and inputs on the content of the texts will be greatly appreciated.

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