I went to a retirement party last week for a well-esteemed colleague that has worked at my workplace for more than a decade.
I’ve always loved retirement parties because it makes me so happy to watch a bunch of my fellow co-workers come together and honour the work that someone has contributed to my workplace. I imagine my honoured colleague felt so enamoured and appreciated by the end of the party.
As the slide show of photos of friendships and memories made over the years played at the dinner, I could not help but hope that one day (in 2054 when I am eligible for retirement) I will be lucky enough to have such a loving party thrown for me. I started to think about what my colleagues would say about me:
The funny times:
“I remember when I met you and all your buttons on your blouse were open and you had no idea… it was such a you moment.”
The challenging times:
“Remember your first solo workshop? You were so nervous…and sweaty.”
The good times:
“Remember the learning circle where we got to hear how our leadership camp inspired a new age of activists? It was amazing!”
As I was imagining my retirement party, I felt so happy and inspired. I figured out that this is why I work: to create stories and memories that shape my life and to enjoy those times with the people I experienced them with. I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to wait until 2054 to hear about all these things– I want to hear about them now. I want to reminisce with my colleagues and hear about all the great things I have contributed to my workplace, right now. And why not?
Maybe I don’t need a full blown retirement party at 28 years old (I will take the cake now, please!), but I thought of some things that I could do to make my colleagues feel happy and appreciated:
1) Share and talk about your experiences together
When my colleagues share stories about each other, I laugh, I cry, and I really appreciate the fact that I get to know that colleague a little bit better than I did before. Don’t be scared to tell your stories. At your next meeting, why not make some time to share and relive some of the experiences you have had together? Think of it as a mini retirement party! What stories would you tell if you had to do a speech at your colleagues retirement? Why wait to share those stories? Share them now. I am sure this will create a happy environment to work in and inspire them to keep creating more memories.
2) Learn about and understand your colleagues different personalities
Everyone comes to the workplace with different values and ideals. Taking the time to understand your colleagues interests and the things they care about most can really have a positive impact on your working relationship. I always try to ask questions and listen to my colleagues talk about their life. This helps me gear what I talk to them about towards their interests, and understand things that they may not enjoy doing. It usually makes people happy to know that you are listening to them and it creates a positive working relationship and, if you are lucky, an amazing friendship too.
3) Say thank you to individuals for their contribution
Many of us are culprits of sending out a mass email or a general “thank you” for things that people do in the workplace. Instead, why not try going to an individual person and thanking them specifically for what they did and acknowledge the challenges that they might have faced in completing that task? The individualized attention makes people feel so special, and can get them more engaged in the work if they know there is someone who is thankful for their contributions.
4) Don’t be afraid to tell someone how amazing you think they are
I was sitting beside a colleague of mine in a meeting, who I have the utmost respect for. She is a steadfast advocate and is one of the smartest people I know, while still giving off a warmness to those around her. As I sat beside her, she made a great comment in the meeting, so I slipped her a note to tell her how amazing and inspiring I think she is. Thinking about it now, it may have been a bit weird…but I am sure I brightened her day just a little bit!
5) Say you’re sorry
The hardest one to do, but saying “sorry” when you have made an error is one of the best ways to recognize and appreciate the work others do. For some reason, saying sorry can cause huge butterflies and choke as you are trying to say it, so, most times, we don’t say it at all. Instead, we just mentally acknowledge the error and promise ourselves that we won’t do that again in the future. Saying “sorry” acknowledges that you hear and understand the feelings of the other person, and can solidify the pact to work together for improvement.
Do you do any of these things in your workplace? Or, do you have any other ways to make your colleagues happy? I want to hear about it in the comment section down below!