March 01, 2010
The Depreciation Of Appreciation
As I grabbed a cup of complimentary coffee at church yesterday morning, I couldn't help but notice the commotion behind the counter. Volunteers were buzzing this way and that, trying to ensure a congregation of several thousand could feed their caffeine addiction before they headed into service. They all had smiles on their faces, yet clearly this was a hectic duty - no sooner would they get one huge reservoir filled when another would empty out its last drops.
As I stirred in my creamer, one volunteer moved to throw away some of the garbage (stir sticks, sugar packets, etc.) and I had the chance to make eye contact. "Thank you for the wonderful coffee - I really appreciate it!", I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster on an early Sunday morning. The woman to whom I spoke did a double-take; first to verify I was actually speaking to her, and second to make sure she heard me correctly. She managed to sputter out "You're welcome" and give me a broad smile before hurrying on to her next task.
Whether someone is serving you because it's their job, or doing it out of the kindness of their heart, a little appreciation goes a long way. Despite being not four feet away from a constant barrage of coffee drinkers, this volunteer yesterday morning was clearly surprised that I had made the effort to express my gratitude. Why would that be? Doesn't everyone liked to be acknowledged when they serve others? If so, why wouldn't everyone fall back on the ol' Golden Rule and reciprocate?
If you haven't yet seen the new TV show "Undercover Boss", put it on your 'must-watch' list. CEOs of household-name companies go undercover and work line jobs with the lowest-paid employees of the company. One recent episode featured a CEO working as a management trainee with the manager of one of his restaurants. The woman (a single mother of two) was a hard worker, had a great attitude, and excellent rapport with her employees.
At the end of the show, the CEO brings all employees he came into contact with to the company headquarters and 'reveals' himself. When this particular manager was brought in, the CEO told her he was so impressed with the way she handled pressure, her customers, and her employees that he wanted her to take two weeks to go anywhere in the world. All she needed to do was tell him where she wanted to go and he would handle everything else - airfare, hotel, etc.
The fact that someone actually made the effort to thank her and express their appreciation had a dramatic impact on her. She welled up and could hardly speak. It was a poignant moment for her, the CEO, and the millions of viewers of the show.
Think about all the people you come into contact with on a daily basis. Think about the coffee barista, the school crossing guard, the clerk at the supermarket, the little league coach, the lifeguard at the pool. How much would a simple 'thank you' mean to them? Why don't you find out?
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