Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Genuine Appreciation

Yesterday evening, upon stumbling back into our home after a difficult day, Joel greeted me with a couple of whiskey glasses uniquely shaped like a skull. I love my single malt whiskeys and would sometimes unwind with a Macallan, Belvenie, Laprhroaig or Talisker. And when I want to celebrate a little achievement, or an occasion, I’ll pull out my Springbank. The gift of our new whiskey glasses was timely because nothing can wash away a stressful day better than a shot of single malt served in unique glasses given by my son. And boy, did I have a stressful day. Watching me sip my single malt with a smile across my face was all the appreciation Joel needed for his thoughtfulness.

So that brings me to the topic of “Genuine Appreciation”. It’s easy to offer money, a dinner treat, a bunch of flowers, and even easier to offer lip service, but genuine appreciation is the hardest to give out, and the rarest to receive.

Within the family, we expect each member of our family to play our respective roles to run a home perfectly. However, we sometimes take for granted the little things that we do for each other. David prepares my pills every morning, lining them up neatly in a row next to my glass of freshly squeezed juice and a cup of freshly brewed coffee. This is a gesture of love I would always appreciate because it starts my morning right and allows me to ease into my day without haphazardly rushing around the kitchen to prepare my own breakfast. And what have I taken for granted? For a long while, David had been attempting his version of coffee art by drawing a heart on the foam of my coffee. I used to delight in embarrassing him by posting pictures of these on facebook and in his words “undermine” his “burly, macho, Scotsman image”. It’s been months since he has done that and I miss that most in the mornings.

Mom sometimes comes by our home with bottles of her wretched Chinese herbal brews that taste like embalming fluid. These herbal brews promise to tip the balance of the Yin and Yang in our bodies to our favor and recharge us with vitality to prevent us from catching a fever and a flu. Sometimes when Mom goes home, the herbal brews either go to the dog or in the bin without her knowing. But often, she would outstay her visit till she watched every drop of these herbal brews go down our throats. Truly unpleasant. However, I truly appreciate Mom’s show of motherly concern and love. I especially appreciate the time when she took the trouble to cook my favorite dishes after my surgery, and wheeled Dad in his wheelchair, while brandishing pots of delicious food to our home. Only the power of motherly love can help me heal my post-surgery wounds even more quickly.

Then there’s my team at work. In my career, this is probably the smallest number of colleagues within a team that does everything from public relations, corporate communications, customer communications, brand marketing, product marketing, digital marketing, sponsorship and corporate social responsibility. And they do it splendidly. God knows how they juggled the multiple projects within the pressures of tight timelines, demanding internal clients with multiple agendas and a period where we are so under-staffed with one of the girls away on maternity leave and another, away on long leave. I have deep respect for these girls and am exceptionally humbled by the show of solidarity and teamwork that made their delivery of every project even more perfect. That was the reason why, I had a lot of appreciation for the effort they put into their work, that I was driven to do the same by working even while I was on hospitalization leave. If the team had to be in the trenches, I was going to be in the trenches with them.

That is why I get annoyed when marketing communications specialists in any company gets under-appreciated. The role of marketing communications had often been relegated to pretty envelope makers, coherent letter writers, and pretty advertising campaign developers. How much effort one puts into lending thought leadership in any business, and how many times one’s work gets seen as a best practice amongst the different markets in the region, a marketing communications specialist seldom gets a pat on the back. However, they are the first to get nit-picked at, with frivolous criticisms about anything from the colors they use within an advertising campaign to whether a talent used in the campaign has a moustache or should be clean-shaven. Years ago, I worked for a company where I was even asked why I hadn’t the strategic mind to put an advertisement at our airport lounges when the bulk of our customers we were targeting were locals. Genuine appreciation isn’t about paying lip service to the “pretty colors” a marketing communications specialist puts out on the advertising in the newspapers. It’s about the genuine appreciation for the fact that these group of specialists are truly doing what they do best, to support the business goals. And I wished more people would understand the role and the contributions from this role much better.

Genuine appreciation in any circumstance, at home, at work, or amongst friends is hard to come by. It becomes really sad if we sit around to expect it and it becomes even sadder, when we DO NOT expect it. I am just puzzled, if I could live life being truly grateful for everything around me from my husband, son, my parents, my job, my team and my friends, and tell them so as often as I can, I cannot understand how difficult it is for other people to do the same.

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