Living in harmony with others may be the most overlooked, but most needed, lesson on what it means to live and lead successfully. To live in harmony with others, it is important to communicate appreciation, publicly and privately.
Relationships Are Like Icebergs
If you ever go on an Alaskan cruise, you will get to see some massive icebergs. Did you know that what you see of an iceberg above the water is usually only one-ninth of its actual volume? Remember the Titanic? Everything was fine. The ship was making good time until it hit an iceberg that ripped a hole in the hull of the ship. It wasn’t what they could see that was the problem; it was what they couldn’t see.
It’s the same way with relationships. One day everything can be smooth sailing. The next thing you know, something happens that threatens to sink the unity. No wonder we use the expression “tip of the iceberg” when describing a problem or difficulty that is only a small manifestation of something much larger. It happens in business, marriage, Most of what a relationship is about is below the surface. Relational icebergs can be dangerous to navigate. But not impossible. From my experience, people either learn how to communicate appreciation effectively or they stay stuck or worse, sink a relationship.
We should enjoy times of peace and use those times to invest in relationships. Like I’ve said, one of the most effective ways to invest in any relationship is to communicate appreciation, publicly and privately. Commending others should be the first thing on our relationship checklist.
How can we show appreciation?
There are lots of methods to show appreciation to others. None of them are wrong and all are better than nothing. I’ve commended others through a timely letter, a short note in a card, a pat on the back, a text, a phone message, and even through e-mail. I’ve also passed along compliments through others, knowing that my words would eventually hit the intended target.
In life and business, faithful service should never be taken for granted. It should be recognized and appreciated. Each time you communicate appreciation to someone, you are making deposits into the relationship bank between you. Most people BELIEVE that showing appreciation is a good thing. Of course BELIEVING it’s a good thing and CHOOSING to do it are two different matters. If showing appreciation and gratitude is so powerful and effective in building a healthy culture within a business, church or family than why is it often overlooked? I think one significant reason is because it comes off as too feely-touchy and can’t be measured. That doesn’t make it any less real. Think of a time when you were shown appreciation. Just the memory alone can bring a slight smile to your face or cause a slow nod of your head as you recall genuine words spoken or timely praise given to you. Being appreciated is powerful.
I’ve experienced the power of appreciation first hand many times but one instance stands out.
It was my twentieth anniversary, in 2009, of being the senior minister at a church. The leaders of the church had planned a very nice sit-down meal in my honor. They flew my mother in from Phoenix, a last-minute surprise for me. The place was packed and I was humbled. I must admit that it was nice to hear good things said about me, and before I was dead. I even enjoyed the ribbing and roasting that went on that night as well.
One particular man’s words are precious to me even to this day. Tom Jarzynka stood and reminisced about the funeral I had done for his son, Zac. It was the largest funeral I had ever done. Zac, and his girlfriend, Brittany Smith, both in high school, had died in a tragic car accident together. “They were two of the most popular and polite kids at Oviedo High,” wrote Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel, on May 17, 2002. People stood in line five hours to pay their respects and grieve with both families.
Zac and his brother had come often to our church with their mother, but Tom rarely, if ever, attended with the family. In the weeks following the funeral, Tom and I talked a lot about God, Jesus, and baptism; and spent lots of time in specific Bible study. It was a blessing to baptize Tom.
Now, seven years later, Tom stood to speak at the church dinner in my honor. He said, “When people care for others the way this church cared for me and my family, it comes from the top down. It’s not an accident.” Looking at me, he continued with a simple, “Thank you.”
These words of encouragement and honor have stayed with me.
I hope that you too can think of a time when someone gave you appreciation. It’s wonderful to see people who are thankful for you and what you do. Gratitude can also act like glue, holding together a hurting marriage, a strained friendship, or a difficult work relationship.
“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.” – Proverbs 18:21
Sometimes appreciation is the juice that keeps you going one more day. If that’s true for you, imagine the impact your appreciation has on others. Make it a point to speak words of appreciation to everyone around you. Speak words of appreciation to…
…your husband or wife.
…your mom or dad.
Everybody wants to be appreciated.