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Music and the Spoken Word: The need to be appreciated

POSTED: September 11, 2017 9:12 a.m.
Deseret Connect/

If it is true that humanity’s deepest need is the need to be appreciated, then perhaps our next greatest need should be to show appreciation — to make a difference in someone’s life by expressing how much we appreciate a job well done.

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Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast.

We all know that every person has basic needs: food, water, shelter. But we don’t often think of some less-visible needs. The philosopher and psychologist William James is credited with saying, “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” And yet so many people go days, weeks, months, even longer without ever hearing a word of thanks or getting any recognition for their good work.

Conveying appreciation costs so little but it means so much. A little effort — a word or two, a note, a smile, a hug — can express how much we appreciate another person and give credit where credit is due. It can be surprising how profoundly such an act of appreciation can change people’s attitude about their work and effort and inspire them to do more. It’s hard to forget a genuine compliment or a sincere expression of appreciation and admiration. We treasure it always.

Unfortunately, noticing the good that others are doing does not always come naturally. So the first step to helping others feel appreciated is simply to notice.

A woman who oversaw a large community event discovered that few people took the time to thank her or even acknowledge her hard and unpaid work. She resolved to have a more abundant heart and pay attention to the service of others.

A man who worked for several years under supervisors who rarely acknowledged his work or appreciated his extra efforts determined to be different if he ever became the boss. Now he is the boss, and he continually looks for ways to recognize and thank people.

A mom and dad learned early in parenting that they strengthen bonds with their children and positively motivate them when they say things like “I noticed how hard you worked on that” or “Thank you for being so kind today.”

All these people have learned the value of creating a generous, positive, appreciative culture, and it works in an organization, in a home and in the heart.

If it is true that humanity’s deepest need is the need to be appreciated, then perhaps our next greatest need should be to show appreciation — to make a difference in someone’s life by expressing how much we appreciate a job well done.
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