"Ideas like conscientiously showing appreciation are matchless signs of humanity - and the practice thereof, in my opinion, doubtless makes you a better person, a person behaving decently in a hurried and harried world. But, to the principle point of this book, such acts also result in dramatically improved organizational effectiveness - and goals more readily achieved." -- Tom Peters, The Big Little Things
Norma Brandel Gibbs said, "You are not better a teacher, or anything else, than you are a person." I have applied that to entertainment. You are no better an entertainer than you are a person. We reveal who we are in the material that we create or select to perform, how we treat audience members, and our interactions with others we work with in performances. I firmly believe that the biggest key to success as an entertainer is being the best person possible. People will see you repeatedly if they like you as a person just because they want to spend more time with you. One of the main comments I have heard from people who knew or met Victor Borge was his decency as a human being. That is why he had such a long career repeating routines that he had used for decades. The routines were polished and perfected by repetition. However, that is not why people went to see his live performances. I saw him in concert twice, and had tickets to see him again when he passed away. I went back to see him because being in his presence was such a joyful experience. I don't think it is a coincidence that the family entertainers I know that I admire most as performers are also among those people that I admire most as humans. And a quality that they all have in common is showing appreciation to others.
That is true in other areas as well. I have become increasingly involved in the Cub Scout organizations in my region in recent years. It has been interesting observing the boys. I have noticed that the boys that are most popular with their peers and have the best interactions with adults are those who are the most polite. Those who say "Thank you" most often, even if I can tell they are just saying it out of habit, have the best relationships with others.
The groups that I have been part of that worked the best were those where the members appreciated each other. That formed a rapport with beneficial results. First, knowing that I was appreciated made me more willing to make an extra effort. I think we all resent feeling unappreciated which dampens our enthusiasm for a project. When that happens it is difficult to motivate ourselves to do our best. Mutual respect and appreciation brought out the best efforts by everyone. Because we knew we were appreciated, nobody competed to be recognized, so everyone cooperated behind the scenes to make the group as a whole more effective.
Appreciation is a reward you can use to motivate others to continue actions you desire. When I needed some customer service at a store one of the employees spent a lot of time helping me. I thanked her, and then found the store manager and told him how much I appreciated the service she had given me. When I returned to that store a couple of weeks later she asked if there was anything I needed as soon as she saw me. That particular store tends to have good service, but I notice that the service I receive is often beyond their normal standards especially when the store is busy. Even the store manager goes out of his way to assist me.
In the past couple of years many people that I know have passed away. Most of them were people that I considered my contemporaries. Some of them made an important contribution to my life or career. A few of them knew I appreciated that. Unfortunately, I think others were unaware of the impact they had, and now I won't have the chance to express that to them. I put off letting them know, and now it is too late. It has been a reminder not to wait longer to show my appreciation to others.
How can you conscientiously show appreciation? How can you do it on a personal level to grow as a human? How can you do it to improve how the groups you belong to function? How can you use appreciation to encourage desirable behavior? Who made important contributions to your life or career? What can you do now to show your appreciation now?
To read more about the value and use of Thank You read this article that originally appeared in the July/August 2002 issue of New Calliope, published by Clowns of America International.