We’ve reached day 13 of the Happiness Challenge! As you know, the reason we started this challenge was to combat our experience of all the negativity that is going on in our country. And, as one Fed Fan has commented to me, it promotes civility and appreciation of those we work with. It does this by reminding us to look for the good in others. And, in that vein, today’s Happiness Challenge activity is to provide positive, meaningful feedback to someone in your own department.

The key word here is meaningful.

There’s one thing I’ve noticed when people give positive feedback. Often, they don’t take into account whether it’s meaningful to the person receiving it.

Let me give you an example I’ve personally observed.

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A friend told me she’d gotten a special award in recognition of spending the quarterly budget. She said all she could think was, “Really? I’m being recognized for spending?”

What she was truly proud of was how she’d revamped what was purchased. The value it brought to the agency. She admitted that she was a little demoralized by the recognition. Why? Because it wasn’t meaningful feedback to her.

In fact, the positive feedback and recognition had the opposite intended effect.

Have you ever received feedback that wasn’t meaningful to you? My guess is that you felt similar to my friend. Even if that particular example did not resonate with you, her experience did.

So when you go to provide positive feedback, I’d ask that you first think about what be most important to that person.

Determining what would be meaningful feedback

  • What do they seem most proud of within their role?
  • Is there any task or project that they regularly talk about?
  • Are there any projects that has a positive impact on a process?
  • How has their work benefited you? Your team? Your division?

Now that last one, “How has their work benefited you? Your team? Your division?” may seem a little out of scope of what would be meaning feedback to the person.

But, it isn’t.

Even if the task or project wasn’t meaningful to them, your explaining why it’s meaningful to you will make it meaningful to them.

Now, the hardest part of keeping on track with a challenge is the accountability and support to keep on going. I hope you’ll follow along with me and the other Fed Fans that are participating. I also hope that you’ll share your successes with us either on twitter #happieratwork or on the Fedability facebook page. You can find me on twitter @danaesims_iopsy. Or, you can leave a comment in the space below.

I look forward to hearing how today’s challenge goes!

Did you miss yesterday’s challenge? That’s ok! You can still read about how to use intentionality when asking for advice.