I learned appreciation one summer when I was in college. I was working at a beautifully restored colonial home that had been converted into a four-star hotel and restaurant. Even though my main job was to carry guests’ bags to their rooms, my position was essentially a glorified gopher: I was supposed to do whatever anyone needed me to do. I reported to the innkeeper, Mr. Clarke, but I also had to do things for the front desk staff, the kitchen staff, and the bartender.
Dave the bartender was a burly, gruff, middle-aged man with intense eyes and pursed lips; he was harsh with his words and quick to find fault—and I never seemed to do anything quite good enough for his taste. But I still had to work with Dave.
Other than the interactions with Dave, I enjoyed my time there. I enjoyed it there so much that I decided to apply to work there again the following summer. While filling out my application the next year, I discovered that Mr. Clarke was no longer there—but Dave was. When I gave my application to the new innkeeper, he sought out Dave’s advice about whether or not to hire me. To my surprise, Dave gave him an enthusiastic recommendation. Apparently I had met Dave’s high standards, even though I thought I hadn’t.
Even though Dave had a difficult demeanor, he did his job well and he expected the same of others. After learning of his surprise endorsement, I began to cultivate an appreciation for Dave’s no-nonsense perspective. Even though he was hard, he was fair. He could provide an insightful assessment and not equivocate in his comments.
You may have a boss who is as difficult to get along with as Dave, or more so. But it is important for you to look past that. Being able to cultivate appreciation for your boss—no matter how difficult your situation may be—will help you improve your situation at work.
Here are three things you can do to develop an appreciation for your boss.
1. Search for what you can appreciate
Even if you have a difficult boss, find something about your boss that you can appreciate (1 Timothy 2:1-2). I realize that you may say, “You don’t know my boss!” Remember: that doesn’t matter. This is not about your boss; this is about you.
Your time at work will be greatly improved if you can appreciate just one thing about your boss, like I did with Dave. Think through his or her abilities, demeanor, or comments. Find something, however small, that you can appreciate; then write it down, because you will need to remember it.
2. Express appreciation genuinely
Once you have found something to appreciate about your boss, think about it every time that you are together. Use it as a pair of “rose-colored glasses.” Let that one thing you appreciate be the lens you look through to color how you see him or her. Eventually you will notice that your outlook about your boss will start to change.
Sometime when you are with your boss, go out of your way to say what you appreciate about him or her. Don’t do it in a flattering way. Just say it like you mean it. If you really appreciate that one thing about your boss, you should be willing to say it—out loud.
Do not let your pride get in the way of appreciating your boss. Even if you have had difficulties with your boss in the past, get past that. You will improve your relationship with your boss—and you will feel better about your work situation—if you verbally express your appreciation.
3. Cultivate a mindset of appreciation
Don’t stop with appreciating your boss. Find something to appreciate about your annoying colleagues and your hectic workplace. Don’t stop until you can find something that you can appreciate about everyone and everything at your workplace (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20).
When you are appreciating people, you are not “feeding their pride.” Some people do not want to say what they appreciate about others for fear of making them prideful. That perspective is not helpful. People crave to be appreciated by others. You will bless them with your words of appreciation—and improve your relationship with them.
But ultimately this is not about the people at your workplace. This is about you. By changing your perception of your workplace, you will change you. You will enjoy yourself at work more because of how you choose to look at the situation.
As a result of finding things to appreciate about your colleagues, you will enjoy being around them more, like I found with Dave. People will be happier to work with you if you are happier with your work situation. You will find that your appreciation of others will have a boomerang effect: what you think about others will come back upon you as well.
This article has been adapted from the #1 international bestselling book, Dear Employee: What Your Boss Wishes You Knew.
To find out more about Dear Employee, or to purchase a copy of the book, click here.