Appreciation and Expectation

Someone recently asked me to share my thoughts on the quote below:

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The version of it which I’ve used here says the author is unknown, and most of the image search results for this quote don’t attribute the words to anyone in particular.

Most images of this quote advertise the website which has used it, and many of the websites using it claim to be spiritual, inspirational, or some other pro-positive-thinking method.

This particular quote was originally titled – “how to build productivity through reward and recognition”, so I guess it originally came from a business tactics site or a pop-psychology site which is teaching people to manipulate others in a ‘positive’ manner to get good mileage out of them and benefit all while doing it because for a business to succeed it needs everyone involved to help it do it and everyone involved who helps the business succeed will benefit from that success (in an idealistic version of the world).

However in the verbal (non-image) results page of Google this quote is most commonly attributed to a successful multi-hyphenated entrepreneur – Amy Rees Anderson. A quick search of her name gives links to articles about her, her own blog (in which she shares other quotes, of hers and those which have inspired her), and interviews with her wherein she shares her professional tips for being successful in business.

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excerpt from an interview with Amy Rees Anderson in the Deseret News: From Mrs. to CEO: Former BYU student has become a successful entrepreneur by Laura Hancock

I shared this excerpt because I found it intriguing and felt it gave insight into and context to the other quote.

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I hadn’t heard/read this particular version of this idea, but it’s a fairly common psyche 101 concept, tactic to use if you want to ‘win friends and influence people’, and basic human wisdom which you’ll find repeated over and over again (using other wording) throughout the history of human advice giving on how to deal with other humans.

It’s that thing your parents tell you about remembering to use Please and Thank you, and writing thank you notes to people who give you gifts on your birthday (is this too old fashioned… I wonder…), and why you may get punished, have your privileges revoked, and/or criticised when you don’t use P’s and Q’s. It’s that gratitude thing we get rammed down our throats at certain times of year. It’s that thing we complain about when others don’t do it to us… and are sometimes embarrassed about when they make a positive fuss and too much fanfare (but we secretly love that kind of embarrassment).

Maybe if we weren’t raised by humans we wouldn’t need this kind of thing… but since most of us don’t get to not be raised by other humans, we have to deal with generational heirlooms passed on from ego to ego. We need our ego to be stroked because human training starts and continues with our ego getting bashed, so those strokes become our guide and our nourishment to know when we’re doing okay…

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symbiosis definition according to the word as a word side of it…

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We all learn to ‘expect’ at least a thank you when we do something for someone else, without it we may get stuck and can’t move on – we may even get caught in a tangled web of tit-for-tat revenge (which we may pass on to someone who had nothing to do with the original event because they’re there and that original person isn’t) simply because someone did not thank us for something we did for them.

We held the door open for them, we didn’t have to do it, and they sailed on through as though we weren’t there, as though all doors magically open for them, as though they were entitled to this act and they were above saying thank you because we’re just a peon compared to their magnificent self and they expect us to do this (it is an honour for us to do it for them) and expect that we expect nothing in return (other than that they accept our offering by walking through, we should be appreciative that they did so – they didn’t have to).

We may know this is foolish or counterproductive to latch onto this kind of personal grievance and make a big deal out of a small slight, but when you get stuck or something gets stuck in your throat (like a rebuke to the person who didn’t appreciate your gesture)… it can be hard to let it go (oh, how you’d wished you’d let the door go and it had slammed in their self-important face! but you didn’t know they were going to be unappreciative… others were which may be why you just kept doing it, hoping for more appreciation for a simple act)

We like to be ‘appreciated’ even when we insist that what we did was ‘nothing at all’ – we enjoy being able to say that, dismiss our effort because someone noticed it and thanked us for it, appreciated it, made something more than it was out of it… but if someone doesn’t thank us, notice, appreciate our ‘nothing at all’ and treats it as a nothing, dismisses our effort, then it becomes a very big something!

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Give me sympathy and you’ll most likely be setting me up to avoid you later on (which is great if that’s what you’re aiming for), because sympathy rubs me the wrong way, but I’m wired a bit skew-whiff…

and I don’t work in an environment where I have to deal with abuse from others (which those others probably don’t think of as abuse – at least not when they’re the ones doing it, but if someone else did the same to them…) all day long with little reward or respite (or admiration for my ability to do so and not crumble or crack under pressure)…

people who work in, say, call centres, especially customer complaints… or any area where people (have probably been ‘on hold’ a little too long, have listened to pre-recorded messages claiming to care for them with little proof of this caring actually being shown or some such spiel for more than their ears can handle, have run the gauntlet of mechanised systems, etc) start conversations with – I hate you, I’m mad as hell and won’t take anymore, everything is wrong and this is what you’ve done wrong in detail… might appreciate sympathy and empathy for what they go through (but are expected to give it rather than get it), and if they get some (especially from a person they are expecting to not give it to them) they might actually do more for you and your issues because you’ve noticed that they are there, holding the door open for you and… they could slam it in your face but you’ve just made your face a smiley one by recognising that they have a face too and it too would like to be smiley.

Is that oversimplifying the complex and complicated…

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excerpt via Research Digest: More human than thou … or just better? Our motivation to think we’re good trumps our desire to feel human by Alex Fradera

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So…

What do I think of that quote?

Well…

the first thought which popped into my mind after reading it was a tangent…

of a film I saw yonks ago, a very silly movie (which had been made even more yonks ago) about ‘how to train your husband like a dog’ – I can’t recall what it was really called (that’s my name for it in memory’s bank), and the whole premise struck me as terribly wrong, but… sometimes the terribly wrong has some terrible rights about it.

Expectations could be viewed as terribly wrong things, but we’ve normalised this tendency so we view expectations as being right, although most of us will admit that such an action as expecting pretty much inevitably leads to disappointment (or even worse, it opens us up to being vulnerable to scam artists – who aren’t artists at all but they expect to be cut the same kind of slack for their creations and creative ability), and disappointment leads to complaints which eventually lead to depression, disillusionment, or some other bleak and unbearable burden – expectation is a burden for those who have it and those who have to deal with those who have it.

Expectation can ruin a perfectly good relationship… but then again we expect expectations in a relationship and without them a perfectly good relationship may get ruined.

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excerpt from Psychology Today: 19 Ways to Tell If You Expect Too Much From Your Partner by Susan Krauss Whitbourne

while this seems to be mainly about intimate relationships, the criteria can apply to less personal interactions.

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the second thought which popped into my mind was – this is basic human ‘motivational’ stuff.

We’re more likely to make an effort for those who will pat us on the head, give us an appreciation biscuit, and tell us we’re a good boy/girl when we’ve done something for them than we are for those who bop us on the nose with a rolled up newspaper, scold us for not doing what they wanted, enough for them, not doing it as well as their perfectionism would have it done, tell us their ideal target for us has been missed and it’s our fault, point out a typo, an error in judgement (like thinking they were someone whose opinion had value), make us feel bad for being alive and living…

We’re more likely to appreciate others when they’ve appreciated us, repay the favour…

although this isn’t a given – people may think that they can criticise others mercilessly (using the radical honesty and radical authenticity movements as an excuse and justification, or freedom of self-expression and speech – which applies to them but not always to others)… and then they’re surprised when others do the same to them, and they may complain loudly about being treated that way while not linking this personal experience of how others have treated them to how they’ve treated others. They want a pat on the head, a biscuit, and a good girl/boy from others even though they don’t do this for others… and somehow they can’t see why things keep going wrong for them.

It must be everyone else who is bad somehow…

which I suppose is a possible reality.

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excerpt via Bakadesuyo: How To Get People To Like You: 7 Ways From An FBI Behavior Expert

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Maybe the next time someone introduces themselves to you (in particularly online) with a criticism or critical opinion… you could appreciate them and their offering rather than seeing what they said as a personal attack.

Does that sound too difficult to do, and wrong to do?

Think of the times you’ve corrected someone else – okay, maybe you’ve never been as rude to others as others are to you… but… you did do it and to them it may have been perceived as rude, even if you were polite (ly passive aggressive). Think of how they reacted versus how you would have liked (and expected) them to react.

If someone had thanked you for your correction… appreciated it and you for sharing, how would you have felt towards them and about yourself?

If someone had attacked you for it or ignored you, dismissed you…. how did you feel about them and yourself?

Sometimes quotes like the one at the beginning of this post aren’t just about ‘positively’ manipulating others… they’re more about feeling good, better, less awful about ourselves…

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Sometimes our motivation for what we do for and to others is about what we do for and to ourselves…

the third thought I had about that quote was…

we keep trying to reduce other humans and our interactions with them into formulas which will in theory make our life easier for us, perhaps because they give us more control over what happens…

and while things like that quote may help to do that, they can also help to do the opposite.

We all (with exceptions for total radical individuals who were raised not by humans, of course) like to be appreciated, have our expectations for appreciation met and perhaps get a bonus in that department which encourages us to do more for the person who appreciates us, but if we find out that they’re ‘scamming’ us because they’re practising what a quote like that is preaching… we may feel cheated, played… even if we’ve used a quote like that on others and found it to be effective (and we’re expecting those to whom we’re giving appreciation to be grateful we did it, to serve us in some way which will benefit all involved maybe, and not feel cheated or scammed by us).

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So, what do you think of the quote – A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected – ?

 

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