Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Thanks, I Appreciate It" - Part Two

To round out this latest miniseries (which is code for "I intended it to be one entry but got carried away writing the first part"), we take a gander at hollow gratitude, namely the phrase "I appreciate it."

Appreciation is a sentiment, unlike love or respect, that requires some sort of carried-out action in order to be more than just a word. When someone tells you they appreciate you or something you did for them, it doesn't mean a damn thing if the benefactor does not show their appreciation in some form. Sure, it may sincerely mean that the other person now thinks more highly of you, but since there is no "Kelley Blue Book" for people, that really does nothing for you. To borrow an investment term, paper gains are nice, but you're in it for the realized gains.

If your boss tells you, "hey, thanks for all that extra work you did to cover while we had people out sick this week, I really appreciate it," you just give a half smile and say "no problem, glad I could help, blah blah blah." But what you're really thinking is the boss had better remember times like this when annual reviews and bonuses roll around. It doesn't even have to be sizable. He could just say "hey, I really appreciate your extra work this week, why don't you take next Friday as a free vacation day, on me?" Sold! That's a tangible, low-cost (for the boss and company) method of showing gratitude, and can only help an employee's morale going forward.

Men are like dogs - we just want you to throw us a bone every once in a while and say "good boy, good boy." Ever see how happy a dog gets when he knows he's done something good and he's about to get a few slices of steak and a belly rub? It's all about the two-way street - the dog brings in the newspaper and gets his treat, making the owner happy and the dog happy, creating incentive for each party to do more of the same in the future. I'll use another human example before you get to thinking I'm trying to be an amateur Dog Whisperer.

Say you have a girlfriend and you choose to surprise her one day with flowers sent to her office (or better yet, waiting for her in her room when she gets home), a nice piece of jewelry, whatever. Your underlying hope is that she loves it and is floored by your level of consideration for her, leaving her wanting to reciprocate somehow - maybe tickets to a game, or that Mickey Mantle throwback you'd had your eye on lately. One hand washes the other - this cyclical action will go a long way in strengthening a relationship.

So when she says, "thank you, this is awesome, I really appreciate everything you do for me," she better not be bitching at you 12 hours later because the trash hasn't been taken out. Excuse me? You just said you appreciate everything he does for you, now you're bitching the first chance you get? You, darling, are a liar and do not truly appreciate anything. And you have just eliminated any incentive for your significant other to ever want to do something particularly nice for you again. If you were really appreciative you'd muscle up and take the trash out yourself, or at the very least, ask nicely if you want something done.

If you really wanted to be honest, you could have said "Thanks so much for everything, but I think so highly of myself that I feel that little trinkets like this are periodically necessary just to keep you out of the doghouse." At least then everyone would have a good understanding of each other.

So, in conclusion, thanks for reading, I appreciate it!

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