By Maria Fontaine

Appreciation is a human need. It's not just something that's nice to have when possible, but something that each person needs in order to be happy and to thrive. That's true in every setting, but it's perhaps nowhere more evident than in the workplace. When people feel genuinely appreciated by those they work for and with, they're much more likely to be excellent contributors and "team players."

We all need appreciation, even if some of us don't like to admit it. You need it, I need it, and everyone else needs it! But how are others going to feel fulfilled in this way unless we regularly express our appreciation for who they are and what they contribute to the team?

When there's lots of appreciation flowing between team members, this significantly boosts the chances of that team becoming a winning team. Appreciation has the power to bring out the best in people. It makes them want to do more, stretch more, contribute more, feel like they're capable of more, and be content in the role they play. If everyone on the team appreciates one another, respects one another, and shows faith in one another, this multiplies the overall productivity and happiness of the team.

It's definitely to your advantage to take the time to appreciate those you work with. It will make you happier, because appreciation is a form of love, and love has a way of returning to those who bestow it. It will make the recipients of the appreciation happier, because it will brighten their lives. And if everyone's appreciating everyone, then the workplace will be a happier, more positive place, everyone will work harder and better, more will be accomplished, and both the material and spiritual rewards will be greater.

Thinking positive thoughts about one another is good, it's a start, but if we don't express those thoughts, if we don't take the time or make the effort to verbalize them, they won't do anyone else any good. We can't expect people to read our minds. We have to put those thoughts into words or actions. We have to be active in our appreciation.

There's so much that we can appreciate others for, but it takes effort on our part. We have to get closer to people and talk to them more and on a deeper level. We need to try to expand our "appreciation horizons" and not only appreciate others for the things that benefit us in the most obvious, direct ways. It means so much to people when someone takes an interest in them, notices unique and special things about them, and takes appreciation to a deeper level.

No matter what may have held you back from dishing out sincere and regular appreciation in the past, you can begin today to bring out the best in others by pointing it out. Appreciate always.