Here is an example of how individualized and personal feeling appreciation at work is. Kevin Durant, the NBA star, has won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, two NBA Championship Finals MVP Awards, been selected to 10 NBA All-Star teams, helped lead his team to two NBA championships, and is paid over $100 million. And yet this past week he is reported to have left the Golden State Warriors to play with the Brooklyn Nets because he didn’t feel appreciated by his fans.
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To most of us this seems incredulous — how can someone not feel appreciated when they repeatedly receive awards from their coaches, peers and fans; they are consistently described as the dominant, most successful player in their career field; who receives all sorts of attention and accolades from the media; AND makes more money in one year than most of us will make in a lifetime?
Two probable reasons exist. First, we know not everyone feels appreciated in the same ways. As demonstrated by the 200,000+ individuals who have taken our Motivating By Appreciation Inventory, while many people value verbal praise, over 50% of the general workforce prefer to be shown appreciation through other means. So, whatever language of appreciation is important to Mr. Durant, the actions which communicate “you are valued” apparently haven’t been used. As we describe in our best-selling The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, to truly “hit the mark” and help someone feel truly valued, using the person’s preferred language of appreciation is critical (as well as utilizing the specific actions within their primarly language of appreciation).
Secondly, at a foundational level, we ultimately need to value ourselves. If, ultimately, we are looking to others to affirm our worth, we will be disappointed. Whether they use affirming words, spend time with us and give us attention, help us accomplish tasks, give us gifts or even celebrate success with high five’s, these actions will eventually fall short if we don’t have the internal conviction that “I matter” (even if it doesn’t feel like others feel the same about me.)
I hope Mr. Durant — and all of us — learn and can rest in this important fact: I have value, even when I don’t feel appreciated by those around me.
This article originally appeared on Appreciation at Work.