On my last job, I was was angry with my boss for not acknowledging my good work. He instead nitpicked on a single detail. We argued about the item until I realized I didn’t really care about that detail. I said, “I’ll check my data again and make the change if you’re right. But tell me, do you have any remarks about the work in general?”
He said, “You always do good work. Do I have to tell you?”
I sucked in my ego and said, “Yes, I need to hear you say this.”
He responded by saying, “Fine, but you never tell me when I do a good job.”
No matter if you are expecting particular behavior from your boss, your spouse, your neighbor or your children, you often have to model the behavior you want to see. We especially forget this when dealing with positions of authority. We get angry when they don’t demonstrate “the right behavior.” Yet we are the best teachers when it comes to showing people how to treat us.
Whatever relationship you are managing, when you find yourself disappointed with their behavior, ask yourself if you have given them what you want in return. Give recognition, respect, patience, interest and compassion. Then if you don’t get these in return, be clear what specific behavior you want to see from them in the future and why.
Then when people give us what we want, sincerely acknowledge the behavior with grace. How do you know you have a good relationship? You are both working on it. When you quit working on it, the relationship is over.