This essay is dedicated to all those who in one way or another are sincerely giving their best to communities, families, or organizations. Do not relent in your selflessness and good service. Do not be heartbroken for the ingratitude shown to you by those around you in the workplace, family, or community you are serving. In these action of yours, God is well pleased; you are giving Him and so many others reasons to smile. Rest assured that some who may not know you in person are earnestly praying and thanking God every day for the gift of your personality to the family, organization, and indeed, to the human world.
For many Africans, our formal upbringing is such that a simple “thank you” and other behaviors of appreciation are not at all common. Rather, we see related acts of kindness from another as a show of weakness. Many of us are even suspicious of kind words said to us by another. We are quick to judge others when they make mistakes and hold back from showing appreciation to them; yet, we crave for it to be shown to us. This attitude is killing us and weakening our families, businesses, and faith communities.
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Many Africans have high expectations from those in leadership, but even some leaders who contribute to charity with selfless service go unappreciated, or worse still, are forgotten when they are out of office.
How much more do the significant efforts of ordinary persons among us go unnoticed? A deep look into most organizations and families in Africa reveals so much neglect of members who are making efforts to sustain the growth of their organizations and families.
Perhaps we fail to acknowledge their service because their good acts do not affect us directly. They may go unnoticed too because many people in our respective communities are more interested in themselves, projecting attitudes that bring themselves into the limelight over any other member of the community.
We compete to be better than the other, even where there is no need for competition.
We can judge our own spirit of appreciation by answering these few questions: How often do you show gratitude to your employers or employees for good behaviour? How many times have you said thanks to the receptionist or the teller in the bank who stays at his/her post always? Have you ever thanked the security men/women who protect your safety? I am convinced that only a few can beat their chest to say, “I have done any of the above.”
To you who are managers in African organizations: please do not let your vision become so clouded by the attention that your workers give you that you fail to acknowledge the service that others are making to the organization.
In this case, there is something to be gained from the example of Western managers. They have learned that people feel better and perform their duties better when they are appreciated, so the wisest among them continuously acknowledge their members collectively and individually.
There may be truth in the claim that the increase in wicked acts, bitter practices and other inhuman behaviour in any society is a result of not showing sincere appreciation to those who are doing good and working hard.
At the same time, we are blessed by a number of people who still contribute to the growth of any community where they are located. Such people demonstrate high interest, devotion and joy as they carry out their good deeds and show love to others. It is our responsibility to appreciate and motivate them.
Some ways we can do this include paying visits to them; gift giving; placing them on special packages as deemed appropriate; call or text to express gratitude from time to time; a sincere, consistent word of “thank you,” “well done,” “God bless you,” and “I love you.”
These small gestures may mean a lot to them and keep them powered up to spread love in our world.