Increasing Positive Moments in your Work and Life: Don’t just think it – say it!

William James once said: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” The need for recognition seems to be ever-present, wherever and whenever we find ourselves spending time with others.  

At the workplace, respective complaints are expressed frequently: ‚I do not receive enough recognition for what I deliver, for what I contribute, for how much energy I put in this project…’. Sometimes I find myself wondering: If everybody asks for more recognition, consequently, there must be someone around who is willing to act accordingly and cherish others and their accomplishments! Obviously, someone has to give it so that somebody else can receive it. Therefore, a simple yet effective approach might be:

If you appreciate someone or something, don’t keep it a secret!

In the hectic world of everyday life, we might easily miss the moment to express positive thoughts or feelings. Yet a simple ‘well done’ can make a day or might even have a substantial impact on a co-worker or a subject matter.

Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary!

Practicing recognition by ‘filling your bucket’

In their book ‘How full is your bucket’ Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton shine some light on the aspect of interdependence. Their approach seems appealing, as well as applicable to me. The core message is: find more recognition by giving more of it in the first place. To illustrate this principle, Rath and Clifton use the metaphor of a Dipper and a Bucket: Each of us has an invisible bucket. It is regularly emptied or filled, depending on our interactions with others. When the bucket is full, we feel great. When it is empty, we feel down. With our invisible dipper, we can fill others’ buckets by saying or doing positive things. Conversely, when we are negative, we are dipping from others’ buckets. 

The beauty of it is: It works both ways. When we fill another’s bucket, our bucket is also filled! Likewise, when we dip from someone else’s buckets, our own bucket is emptied in turn. Consequently, we face an important choice every moment: We can fill one another’s buckets or dip from them. This choice profoundly impacts our relationships, productivity, and wellbeing.

Here are some strategies that help you fill buckets – your’s and other’s

  • Prevent bucket dipping – be aware of what you say and how you act
  • Give unexpectedly by listening carefully, remembering things, and spending time with someone by giving positive feedback
  • Give drops – these are handwritten, personal messages to share kind and appreciative words with others; drops should be individual, specific, and deserved
  • Take responsibility and fill your bucket by making things that make you feel good.

And please do always remind yourself that first of all, it is up to us to give ourselves recognition! We do not need to wait for it to come from others. We are always free to share some positive thoughts with ourselves. 

Now get started by rating your bucket filling and raise your awareness for your everyday’ moments of dipping and filling! Enjoy the experience!

If you would like to reflect on these or other questions with a sparring partner, you will find me here.


Increasing Positive Moments in your Work and Life: Don’t just think it – say it!


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