As a mom I often catch myself reminding my children all the things they need to do. Pick up your shoes, put your dishes in the dishwasher, put your laundry in the hamper, pick up the toys you are not playing with. Do your reading. Practice your spelling. I see what needs to be done and ask them to take care of it.
One morning, my son said to me, “Mom, all you do is tell us what needs to be done. Do you not see all that we did already?” His innocent question stopped me in my tracks. Of course I appreciated their work! How had I missed the simple opportunity to acknowledge their efforts and express gratitude for their contribution to keeping our home in order? While unintentional, my actions were making them feel like they weren’t seen or appreciated.
Appreciation and emotional buckets
Tom Rath and Donald Clifton explain in their book, How Full is Your Bucket, that each person has an invisible emotional bucket. When it is full, we feel positive, hopeful, optimistic and when it is empty we feel awful, tired, and negative. Every interaction we have can fill or empty our buckets, and in turn, our response towards others can fill or empty their buckets. Many of us don’t realize where our bucket level is at or the importance of having a full bucket. In my story, the infrequent recognition of my children’s efforts was emptying their buckets.
I think we can all agree the last couple of years have taken a toll on us. We are asked to do more with less resources. We are asked to approach things in new ways. We have new challenges to overcome. All the while we have more on our plates outside of work, new stressors and uncertainties to maneuver. Many people are running on empty buckets.
Be a bucket filler
Are we doing enough as employers, leaders and a society to fill each other’s buckets? Imagine the difference it would make if we were intentional about expressing genuine gratitude and acknowledgement of each individual’s contribution on a daily basis. Through the simple act of gratitude, we can help our people feel seen and heard. In a world where we are short supplied and short staffed, imagine the impact of helping people feel like they’re enough. Imagine the impact of a full bucket.
For my family, being intentional about acknowledging the work my kids did helped them feel appreciated and, in some cases, even caused them to do their work without reminders. Their sense of pride and the smiles on their faces is evidence of their full buckets and seeing this helps fill my bucket too.
So, how full is your bucket today? How can you fill the bucket of those you interact with today?