This title may bring to mind click-frenzied cliques of social media madness, but what I’m really talking about is the power of appreciation in personal learning networks, what this can mean for the individual and what it can mean in the larger scheme of things.
While social media networks are extremely powerful in helping you to express, influence or spread appreciation, the message can be empty, shallow or even annoying if there’s no soul behind your goal.
While teachers need to be appreciated by students and parents, sometimes we find real anchor and strength in mutual support,common interests and inspired collaboration.
That’s why my contribution towards Teacher Appreciation Week focuses on teachers appreciating teachers.
I’ve been able to study and experience many aspects of this through my own online networks, professional development experiences and reflecting upon where my own inspiration and support comes from.
The natural way to network
[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@WizIQ” suffix=”#TeacherAppreciationWeek”]In order to keep ourselves open to change and inspiration we need to take an interest in what our colleagues are doing[/inlinetweet]. Between what’s bubbling in your own mind and the wider expanse of external influence lies the magic potential of ”mindsight” – tuning into smoke signals that spark like dynamite when the signal is returned.
To learn more about mindsight – entering into the experience of another through social intelligence – read here.
Image credit: Angela Marie Henriette
In this sense, appreciation is not always about making the most noise. In fact, it’s never about making the most noise. We’ve got to slow down to get our socially intelligent radars picking up the right signals.
There is a lot of untapped synergy in the sound of silence.
My colleague Zafi Mandali reminded me of the power of unspoken appreciation recently and she also challenged me to cover the concept in this article.
To quote Zafi:
[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@WizIQ” suffix=”#edchat”]Look at it this way. Some appreciate each other but never seem to have time to make a statement about it. Please bear that in mind in your article[/inlinetweet]
So Zafi is challenging me to describe how we can show appreciation without wasting time literally clicking on peoples’ profiles, following them around networks or getting into deep discussions throughout the course of a busy day. It’s also good to master the art of showing appreciation without literally verbalising it or making gushing statements. While verbalising support through comments or messages is very powerful andd highly recommended, we don’t always have time. When I see new posts from my fellow bloggers and I’m multi-tasking home & work, I just wish them well in my own mind or sometimes skim the articles without following up on things.
We can’t be everywhere all the time.
Here are some thoughts on silent appreciation:
1) Reading someone’s blog article, even if you don’t comment or acknowledge it.
There’s something powerful about silent appreciation. For every bit of positive feedback I may get for an article, I realise that many more people out there are reading it, being inspired and there’s something mysterious about not knowing how a few words can make a difference somewhere else in someone’s life.
It also means that you don’t build up an unrealistic addiction to feedback, but instead you gain quiet confidence that the soul of your message will be received where it’s needed. There are times when you will realise whom you have reached in mysterious ways.
2) Asking someone for advice
The fact that you ask someone for help means that you value their opinions and they feel good about helping you – this is, in fact, a powerful form of unspoken appreciation.
3) Sharing what you love
When you share your passions with others, you are really sending lots of different messages. You’re saying you know they’ll appreciaate it too, you know that they will love it, and that you love that they love it. You can share books, quotes, videos, thoughts and so on.
4) Being influenced by someone’s work and acknowledging them or linking to them in your articles.
I take a great interest in what my colleagues do, even when I’m busy – which is always – because the collage of influences always feed their way into my own work – and that’s why my articles are often full of attributions and links. This article I’m writing now is another collage of influences and books. Likewise, my work inspires other teachers in other ways. It’s all about open sharing without the ego.
The vibes of unspoken appreciation can create a kind of music invisible to the naked ear but felt by the heart.
In that sense, the best ”clicks” can be created through the intangible mists of silent appreciation. Yet they go on to create more synergy and actualised collaboration than other more forced attempts to collaborate. I’m sure we all have some personal stories about this – most of my own “clicks” are based on the right vibes in the right places.
Small things that make a big difference.
Moving on from silent appreciation, what small things can we do for our colleagues that can make a big difference?
To quote Zafi again:
[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@WizIQ” suffix=””] Yes, you have a high opinion of somebody’s work but keep your opinion to yourself. We need to communicate this through open praise. It would be interesting to know how each one does this. Is it a smile, a little gift, a good word[/inlinetweet]
It would be nice for teachers to share their stories below. Stories of serendipitious appreciation or stories of small things they’ve done for their colleagues that made a big difference.
According to “The Small Big – small changes that spark big changes” ….
…. the small act of showing appreciation really does make a big difference.
(Ps – I knew this in my heart of hearts before reading the book and I’m sure you do too – but it’s good to have some studies behind why we do what we do)
Here are my interpretations of some of the principles.
a) The principle of reciprocation means that helping someone makes them want to help you too – this sets the energy in motion to create a movement or to inspire teaching networks and associations.
b) Receiving a good deed is just as powerful as giving one – as long as you genuinely acknowledge the favour – it fuels the energetic exchange of ideas, favours and influence.
c) Our circles of influence are much wider than we would expect and can lead to socially-intelligent movements for the greater good beyond your own networks.
[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@WizIQ” suffix=””]Expressing gratitude towards someone who has helped you increases their chances of helping a complete stranger[/inlinetweet]. Expressing gratitude increases the receiver’s sense of social worth, validation and feeling felt.
Click and the magic of instant connections.
In another book called “Click” the magic of instant connections, by Ori Brafman and Rof B rafman, the subtleties of appreciation and resulting popularitiy are also explored.
The main message I got from this book, and have felt in my own experience, is that positive influence cannot be faked, manipulated or set-up just to serve ulterior motives.
Studies of ”naturally” influential people show that the most successful ”clickers” don’t know how they do it. Yet, scientists have isolated characteristics common to such people.
They are “high monitors”, in the sense that they think before they speak, they match their moods to suit the environment, they can pick up on non-verbal cues and facial expressions – they can read between the lines in written communication on social networks – in other words they are sensitive to the point where tuning into others can block out their own egos or false impressions.
People who are “low monitors” fail to tune into the nuances of communication beyond the surface. They also over-analyse their own perceived ”facts” about others and then feel suspicious of emotional currents, vibes and inter-personal relationships that they can’t understand.
What can we learn from this?
We can learn that the true art of clicking can be found through the doorway of listening.
Listening may be a lost art in our noisy world. Listening has been reduced to physical perceptions of noise, whilst the silent sounds of true connectivity continue to elude us.
This is my cue to silently extend my appreciation to the amazing teachers in my network and beyond. Those I’ve worked with, those I’ve yet to work with, those I connect with, those who read my blog silently or openly, those who come to webinars, conferences, those who share books, ideas, thoughts, feelings, inspiration and aspirations, and finally, those who fuel the synergy that keep our profession alive.
You all know who you are – as a teacher, you are part of this great sea of connectivity, sharing and making a difference 🙂
Finally, I’ll leave you with a concept, message and quote from a great book called ” why good things happen to good people” on the principle of giving.
The book scientifically analyses compassion by examining mirror neurons, oxytocin and all kinds of other fascinating details, but for the purposes of this article here’s the essence:
The reason why listening to the heart & mind brings about true connectivity is because deep listening breeds compassion.
The true key to connectivity and clicking with others is to cultivate a compassionate way of being.
Compassion is a form of giving that by its nature helps you to keep what you give.
[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@WizIQ” suffix=””]Giving others what you need yourself, can be potent medicine for your own life. [/inlinetweet]
Giving is nondualistic – there is no contradiction between being generous and receiving benefits and pleasure from that giving. In particular, giving someone what you yourself are longing for brings unexpected rewards, among them a feeling of connection with others like yourself”
It’s described as the beautiful paradox of giving what you need yourself – it sheds new light on generosity and being human.
From Why Good Things Happen To good People.