It’s strange, but I’ve never actually been comfortable with praise. Of course if I do a good job it’s nice when someone acknowledges it, but beyond that I find praise to be embarrassing and in the past have gone to great lengths to avoid it. I will skip celebratory luncheons, avoid awards ceremonies, and pass on public acclamation. You’re supposed to do a good job, let’s just leave it at that and move on.
Perhaps my odd personality quirk is why I find “Teacher Appreciation Week” so distressing. Do we really need finger foods and door prizes to express to teachers how appreciated they are? How about a day off or a bonus? At most let’s have a slap on the back and a hearty “Atta Boy!” and call it a day.
You know, I really think that it would be easier to tolerate the forced cheerfulness and awkward door prizes they weren’t ALWAYS accompanied by that most terrible of Fearless Leader phrases, “Thanks for all you do.”
I know that you’re wondering how I could possibly have a problem with a heartfelt statement of appreciation, so let me walk you through it. First off, it’s not heartfelt. If it were, it wouldn’t be mindlessly repeated by Fearless Leaders at every level of organization in every field of human endeavor going back to the formation of Rome. Second, doesn’t anyone else recognize that if this were a heartfelt expression of gratitude and appreciation it would be slightly more specific? I mean, if we tease out what’s actually being said it would go something like, “I’m clearly way to busy to actually know anything about you other than the fact that you work for me and make me look good, so thanks for that and keep doing… whatever it is that you do.”
Clearly “thanks for all that you do” is Fearless Leadership Code 101 for, “I’m supposed to say something nice here, but I just got back from my 2 hour lunch and that lobster tail (and 3 micro-brewed craft beers imported just for me from Belgium) is making me sleepy.”
Perhaps Fearless Leaders get away with “thanks for all you do” in other professions, but Future Generators like myself deal in meaningless platitudes! You really can’t expect us not to notice when someone attempts to use them on us, can you?!
Thankfully, Teacher Appreciation Week will be over in 4 days and then everyone will go back to accusing us of sabotaging their children’s future with equal parts harassment and incompetence and everything will be back to normal. So brace yourselves, Future Generators. Try not to choke on your chicken fingers and get your excited face ready in case you win that tea towel you were eyeing among the pile of door prizes. It’s only 4 more days; you can make it.
Oh, and thanks for all you do.