People want to be appreciated

A friend/client recently told Melissa and me that his father, a long time judge in Miami, often told him that “People just want to be appreciated.” We were discussing the frequency with which lawyers often seem not to appreciate the effort that goes into, for example, “free proposals.” (As a digression, while I interact with lawyers daily, I suspect their profession does not deserve to be singled out for not showing appreciation; it is just the world I live in; people from all walks of life may be equally discourteous.) Our research proposals are prepared “for free,” but they are far from free. The hard costs may not be that much, some brochures, folders, paper, and postage or overnight charges may be the extent of those costs. But, the time involved has a cost too. We know this is a cost of doing business. But, having expended my time and money, I am amazed, or rather, disappointed, at how often the prospect, who asked me for the proposal, becomes non responsive when I try to follow up on it. Most say “thank you” via a quick email. But, some are “radio silent” leaving me to wonder, why? I guess I want them to appreciate the effort and give me the courtesy of taking my follow up call. And after the discussion with this friend, I started thinking that being appreciated is really what most of us want in most aspects of life (well, in addition to the business from those to whom we send proposals). There are many “thankless tasks” that people often undertake. I observe it in the context of helping those in need, including elderly parents. I realize that, at some point, it is impossible for the parent, or other person being helped, to know how much effort is being expended on his or her behalf. But, many times the time spent feels unappreciated when the person makes it more difficult than it needs be to help him or her. Which leads me to say, no matter who you are, think about those who help you. From the “cleaning lady” to the support professionals, colleagues, friends, and family, don’t take them for granted. We are all trying to get through this life together.

When David and I recently heard this phrase, “People just want to be appreciated,” from our friend, we reflected on this truism. Regardless of who one is, the status one has achieved in life, and other variables, all of us want to believe our contributions have made a difference in someone’s life. I learned this lesson as a child, when Mom regularly went out of her way to thank our garbage collectors for picking up our garbage. Mom also made a point of learning the names of the people at the grocery store who worked as cashiers or who pushed the grocery cart and placed her purchases in her car. She knew the names of the people who worked in restaurants we frequently patronized, the names of all the office assistants of her medical/dental practitioners, as well as various other people who are routinely ignored. I always thank Magnus’ staff for a job well done, including thanking them at the end of every work day for all the things they did to help me that day. I have never walked out the front door of our office at the end of the day without thanking everyone for their day’s work. And, like almost everyone else, I appreciate being thanked for my contributions. Most of Magnus’ clients thank me for my help on their case. A few of them are highly complimentary. And, of course, there are a few who never thank my staff or me for our hard work. Believe me, I take note of which attorneys thank us and which ones ignore us! Most of us require assistance from many people as we go through life. I’m glad Mom taught me to “count my blessings” from an early age and I’m glad my friend, Buddy, reminded me of this valuable lesson.

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