‘Supposedly, the words we enjoy hearing most are, “I love you”. Not true. The words we most want to hear are, “Well done!”’
Uncle Pete, from Speakers’ Corner
How you would feel if you were kind to someone and the recipient sneered at you, instead of thanking you? You might well feel lousy. It’s not our act of kindness which give us pleasure, it’s being appreciated (valued) for it.
Even when the recipient isn’t there to appreciate what we have done, we can imagine the person’s pleasure. That can be enough.
Most of us already instinctively find ways to feel valued: we make friends, find a partner, act kindly, work hard, have a loving pet . . . In this section we find ways to feel valued. But first, I have a favour to ask of you, in the next chapter.
Q. ‘Mark, if we like being valued, why don’t we boast about our achievements more often?’
Most of us soon realise gloating can be counter-productive. No one likes a boaster. And talking about your contribution might cheapen the value of another person’s contribution.
Recognise your need to be valued, but don’t vie for attention, and don’t grab someone else’s glory.
‘The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.’
Q. ‘Why are there vandals, and criminals? If we want to feel valued, that’s a strange way of going about it!’
Perhaps vandals feel valued by fellow vandals, in the same way gang members feel valued by each other.
‘Are you saying kids in gangs engage in criminal behaviour to feel valued by other gang members?’
It’s probably one reason. A member of any gang (of lawyers, a sports team, a political party . . .) might act dishonourably to get approval from their peers.
Q. ‘Mark, you say we need to be valued. But voluntary workers don’t cartwheel for joy when a new day dawns. Mother Theresa, who assisted the poor in Calcutta, was apparently a cranky lady writing angry letters to God.’
1. Voluntary workers can become bored or habituated to the same gratitude.
2. They might not get enough appreciation to make the job enjoyable.
3. They might get all the appreciation they need and are sated quickly. We don’t need much. The farmer who grew the wheat for a million breakfasts won’t experience your gratitude, but they will still feel proud of their achievement. We don’t need heaps of feedback. A little bit goes a long way.