I hate it when I do great work and it goes unrecognized by everyone except my own family, who I whine to until they say "good job!" (They usually have no idea what they're congratulating me for.)
Seriously, who wants to labor in obscurity without a pat on the back, or a bonus or even some pathetic "employee-of-the-last-10 minutes" award? The workplace is a grim place these days, as worker drones labor long hours in their cubicles with the boss stopping by every once in a while to bark a new order.
OK, maybe I'm exaggerating. I know there are rays of hope and light out there somewhere, but when did we become so stingy with a kind word now and again? When did we start believing that complimenting a co-worker on a job well done would somehow diminish our own worth?
"Nobody ever gives me a parade," you think to yourself. "Why should I offer a nice word to anyone else? It's called WORK for a reason. Dumbasses."
So, I've been trying a little experiment. Whenever I go into another workplace, I try to find something worthwhile. "I really appreciate the way you pack my groceries. Not putting the rat poison in with the bread is really smart. So great," I tell the checker at Wal-Mart.
Of course, her first reaction is to glance at me in suspicion as she rings up my Gummie worms and cauliflower (both high-fiber foods in my house). But then when she sees I'm sincere, she beams and says, "Well, thanks! I know it's the way I'd like my groceries packed, so that's what I do." She's still smiling as I leave.
I try it again at Dairy Queen. The two Justin Bieber lookalikes are seemingly floored when I tell them they mix the sodas just right. Not too much syrup, not too much water. Just right. "Well done," I tell them.
They break into big smiles and offer me coupons for a free smoothie on my next visit.
I think what I've learned is how much I get from sincerely complimenting a job well done. I don't have to say anything nice -- I could be the customer from hell and make it another bad day at work. But I've decided to try and find something positive in every worker's contribution and let them know I see what they're doing.
I realize this is no big deal. It won't change the world. But it will make the workday a little better, hopefully, for some of these worker bees who could use a good word every now and again. If their boss or co-workers aren't going to do it, how about it being ....you?