Are you one of those people who, when others thank you or pay you a compliment about your performance, reply, “It’s just my job?” Have you ever been on the receiving end of that assertion when you thanked someone who has helped you? Those who deflect people’s praise or acknowledgment short-change themselves as well as others.
Just as organizations cannot optimize their business results unless their employees are fully successful, individuals cannot optimize their lives unless they acknowledge and “own” their talents and the value they generate. After all, if you don’t believe you provide great value to others, why should anyone else believe it? I know a very conscientious handyman who does exceptional work yet consistently undercharges customers for both labor and materials. Why? He is afraid that people will not hire him because they think he charges too much. In fact, his rates are very low, and I know people who would love to hire someone with his talent and expertise at two or even three times his current rate.
What’s going on here? This individual, like too many others, does not acknowledge the value he provides. Unless he makes the first “sale” to himself – i.e., sees and honors the talents he uses to help others – he cannot communicate that value to potential customers. Similarly, those who brush off the admiration and thanks of people who experience their value essentially are denigrating their own talent and disrespecting those who benefit from it.
Public safety employees are notorious practitioners of the “It’s just my job” syndrome. Brushing off the public’s thanks for years now is having an unintended negative consequence: over time, people mistakenly have come to accept the assertion that performing law enforcement and fire service jobs really IS no big deal. As a result, during this time of exceptionally scarce resources, public safety agencies’ budgets are undergoing unprecedented cutbacks.
I’m not suggesting that close scrutiny of these agencies’ budgets is unwarranted or inappropriate. What I am saying is that after years of downplaying their value, public safety employees have their work cut out for them in terms of re-educating the public, and specifically those who allocate resources, about the complexity of their jobs, of the risks involved, and of the resources required to sustain the desired level of readiness.
The moral of this story: acknowledge the value you provide to others, and accept their gratitude. After all, if you downplay that value, how can others possibly appreciate it?
© 2011 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.