• The Art & Science of Appreciation

    I remember one article about various factors necessary for healthy growth of newly born babies. It said that, infants who got frequent touch of people, grew more healthily than those who got all the same care except the human touch. Needless to say that too much handling of babies is also undesirable. Out of our five senses, the sense of touch is most important in infantile phase of our life. The child gets its quota of “appreciation” through sense of touch by of hugs, kisses, patting and so on. It continues to seek appreciation but now not only through touch but all the senses. Similar experiments with animals & plants are also well known. Every living creature struggles for proving and sustaining its self worth throughout its life. It thus craves for being noticed, recognized & thus appreciated to make sure of its self worth. But as we grow up, our awareness about “appreciation” becomes distorted due to various reasons. It becomes one sided, means we become more demanding about it but tend to forget about our moral duty of giving it to others when deserved. So most of us are starved of recognition & appreciation. This affects our both productivity in the job & our peaceful personal life. So, whatever profession or vocation we are in, we must understand the art & science of Appreciation. Engineering is naturally no exception.

    Our life is full of human to human interactions & good etiquette play a similar role in it as is played by a lubricant in a machine. Although science of lubrication is concerned with Mechanical Engineering ,every engineer & a layman understands it crucial importance. We are careful about our cars & bikes but not so much about our interactions with relatives, friends, colleagues & subordinates etc. Many people are careless with their superiors too. (we must appreciate their daring ha ha!) Art & Science of appreciation helps in providing us powerful lubricant in our daily interactions. We can generate our own lubricant abundantly & that too free of cost.

    We need to change our attitude a bit for that . Do not get scared by the word but we have to be little spiritual (this is different than being religious). I think that, being spiritual means, realizing that how so ever rich, powerful & learned I may be, I am just a fleeting (temporary) and very small part of the universe & its environment. With this basic step we start appreciating so called insignificant happenings like a small flower blooming over the neighbour’s fence or chirping of a not so beautiful bird on the telephone line. When we grasp basics of art of appreciating these entities , we can learn to appreciate the good things about other humans, crossing the walls of jealousy, hatred , self pride, anger & greed etc.

    Some people create happiness wherever they go & some people do so whenever they go(away). Some people are always welcomed while others are always avoided. It is entirely on us, which category we should to belong. One who is universally interested is universally interesting & is welcomed everywhere. When we are universally interested, we can notice, recognize & of course appreciate even small good things surrounding us. We definitely get inner pleasure by doing so but it is only half the way. Expressing our appreciation appropriately does two additional good things. We make the other person truly happy without any cost to us. The happiness is reflected to us along with bonus. It has many secondary yet larger benefits. Mental peace & so mental health of the persons we are interacting in particular & society in general improves. Subsequently the violence & crime in the society will reduce (except for the violence by small number of perverted minds like terrorists). Productivity & hence quality of life will increase even with lesser material prosperity, benefiting the group/family, the organization & ultimately the nation. If we go one step further, the world off course. Prosperity of the world is a major concern of every engineer.

    We many times mistakenly feel that we owe our appreciation only to Amitabh, Sachin , Kishorekumar or the likes & need not appreciate our near ones in daily routine matters. Said in lighter vein “I should continue to notice & appreciate good things about my spouse, which I noticed when I was newly married .” Praising & flattering are opposite poles yet many people confuse between them. Every body likes real currency note may be soiled but not counterfeit notes, howsoever new it may look. If we observe with open & unbiased mind we will definitely find something genuine to appreciate in every person (even your boss, ha ha ha !) & we need not flatter him/her . Undeserving, excessive & untimely praise is harmful . Similarly pampering & appeasing must be avoided at any cost.

    Does this mean that we should never criticize? No . If you want to criticize somebody, do it privately & briefly but praise in public & liberally . Always start with praising a good performance if at all any corrective tips are necessary to be given. It is called sugarcoating the bitter pills. Instead of giving just generalized remark “good or bad” as is usually done by most of us, we should develop the ability to give at least few points illustrating our remarks along with suggestions for improvements. This is how the process also leads to self development. Direct mention of shortcomings of a non performer should be avoided in praising other’s good work as it will lead to unhealthy practice.

    Usual greetings are a form of recognition & appreciation but many people are immature & they do not extend small courtesy like “Hallo or Namaste” to a person whom they meet often & from whom they do not expect any ‘favour’ in near future. They do not hesitate to start (fake) greeting again if they smell that the same person is going to matter in the changed circumstances. For such people only position matters & not the qualities in a person. This is a shortsighted policy. This is a sign of poor “Emotional Intelligence” One more simple way of recognizing/appreciating a person is to listen to him with full attention & not cutting short his/her sentences, asking for pardon if some interruption like a phone occurs & asking him to continue after that. Note that agreeing with everything spoken is not at all necessary. But if we must differ, then we should never underestimate other’s opinion ,leave apart ridiculing it. We should put our opinion with a preamble ‘Excuse me, you may be right but my experience is different....’

    There are many reasons for being miser in appreciating something or somebody. Most of us have a false notion that whatever we have achieved or are capable of achieving is only important in the world & everything else is worthless. This is just proverbial ‘Sour grapes’. Many rich persons appreciate persons , richer than themselves but not a scholar with an average financial status. Many politicians give more attention to idiotic opinions of their mediocre colleagues than their wise advisors. Mediocre college teacher may ignore the qualities of a bright & socially active school teacher. A Ph.D. person (so of them unable to talk & write correct English) does not appreciate good communication skills of a non Ph. D. colleague A beautiful girl may hate an average looking girl getting promotion due to her(average looking) good presentation in board meeting.. Students who themselves are not sincere & unable to speak one correct sentence, pass adverse judgments on teaching ability of the teachers. The list is endless because our democratic society does not discourage the wrong practices stated above.

    Many people can not just digest the idea that somebody else occupying the post once held by them , has performed equally well or better than themselves when they were at the helm of affairs in the past. I know of a highly placed executive who went on praising everybody from himself to the peon, in contributing to the progress of the department without mentioning even a word about his successor who had shown him the courtesy of giving a place on the dais. We are ready to learn from an outside consultant but not from our own capable colleague because we feel it is giving ‘one up’ position to him. Avoiding to introduce a colleague/friend/spouse with a guest or not introducing properly is unfair. Many people are either not aware of these etiquettes or are careless because they feel, they need to observe them only with superiors & not with colleagues or subordinates.(How immature?)

    Not being able to appreciate good qualities of a colleague or a subordinate is unprofessional & hence harmful to oneself, the department & the organization. Giving favours to non performing subordinates for some unofficial reasons(e.g. connection to some union/ big boss, nuisance value) is harmful to the progress of the organization. Ignoring to recognize good work of sincere subordinates is even more harmful. Recognition can be in terms of financial rewards but need not always be so but could be otherwise also. E.g. a felicitation in meetings , asking him to share his successful methods with colleagues or assigning some juniors to him for training etc. The turnover of employees has increased these days in many organizations but giving a right place in the system for regular appreciation of good work is helpful in giving more job satisfaction & hence reduction in employees turnover.

    Article written by Prof. (Er.) Suresh P. Khedkar B.E. M.Tech. MIE. DBM. LL.B.
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  • Ankita Katdare

    AdministratorJul 12, 2011

    The article is updated.
    If you have any comments/thoughts/questions about the article please share them here.
    Prof. Khedkar will be reading and answering them. 😀

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