While traveling many air miles over the past few weeks, I am acutely aware of the masked individuals that I encounter in airport terminals, taxi lines, hotel lobbies, and meetings. Many of us have been socially isolating for an extended period, and I am grateful for every opportunity to have eye contact with others — especially with those who seemingly share my appreciation for this small but meaningful interaction! It is so wonderful to feel this connection and to be recognized and acknowledged by others again.
Recognition: Why does it matter?
We are heading into the second week of Nurses Month and the theme of the week is Recognition. I’ve been giving some thought to what recognition is and what this form of gratitude conveys to nurses. I asked Bonnie Barnes, co-founder of The DAISY Foundation, to consider how gratitude influences nursing. Bonnie shared:
“The evidence of gratitude's impact on those receiving it and on those giving it is rich. Nurses are energized, emotionally, when they are thanked by patients and families for their care. Patient's statements of gratitude are cherished by nurses as they are strong reminders of why they became nurses – a tie to their purpose. Furthermore, research demonstrates that patients and families want and need to express their gratitude to those who go above and beyond in their care. The expression goes beyond the moment of saying ‘thank you.’ It is a way for patients to give something back to those who gave so much to them.”
– Bonnie Barnes, Co-founder of The DAISY Foundation
Recognition + Appreciation = Gratitude
In general terms, recognition is about giving positive feedback based on results or performance — but limitations exist. For one, recognition is performance-based, which makes it conditional. It’s also based on the past and linked to a behavior that has already occurred. Finally, it generally needs to come from the top, and as a result recognition can be scarce. Conversely, appreciation is about acknowledging a person's inherent value. It is not about an individual's accomplishments, but rather about their worth as a colleague and as a human being. It is my belief — and my intent throughout my nursing career — that recognition should be combined with appreciation to reveal the truest sense of gratitude.
Make time to recognize others
As life and work get busy, recognition can often be overlooked—especially in virtual or remote work settings. However, recognition is appropriate — and indeed necessary — when it's earned and deserved. And when paired with other workplace attributes that employees value, a mindset of gratitude can even be a countermeasure to burnout.
Here are some simple ways to show appreciation:
Listen to others
Be aware of the contributions of your work team and others
Take time to understand what others consider positive recognition — how do they want to be recognized?
During this second official week of Nurses Month, let’s turn our focus to others: Look into their eyes and understand more fully that connection and recognize them for their many contributions. In recognizing nurses — in ways big and small — you can help them see the difference that they make.