The Working Out Loud (WOL) Circle Guide for Week 10 is titled “Become More Systematic.” As everyone in our group works to make new habits, this week provides a valuable opportunity to run through a check list of things we can be doing to strengthen our relationships and deepen our networks. In other words, we are checking in with our WOL systems.

  1. Connect with someone online.
  2. Show appreciation by clicking a Like button, or sharing a public thank you.
  3. Share something you’ve learned that can help others.
  4. “Connect the dots” by spreading something of value through @mentions or direct shares.
  5. Ask a question.
  6. Answer a question.
  7. Offer feedback.
  8. Reflect on your experiences.
  9. Offer original ideas.
  10. Connect a purposeful group.

We spent time talking about gratitude, and recognized that sharing words of gratitude with anyone is so powerful, yet so many of us are hesitant to say “Thank You” in any kind of public way. Why is that?

Ironically, many people on our staff regularly communicate using Yammer, and when making a post in Yammer, all users have the option to make a post as “Praise” rather than just as a regular update. Those posts automatically send the person being praised an email notification, and we can pick fun, wacky icons to go along with our words of thanks and recognition. Whether we choose a thumbs up, a gold star or a bag of money, there are many ways to praise a colleague in a fun, meaningful way.

Sadly, very few of our colleagues ever use the “Praise” functionality. Sharing a public thank you can be challenging because when we are public with our appreciation, we are concerned that for that moment in time, we are unprotected.

We are unprotected because through our praise, we have shared the fact that we needed help. Or there was something we didn’t know. Or that someone else is better at doing something than we are. Or maybe we think we are the ones who should be getting the praise, not the other person. We are sometimes afraid that something valuable has been lost when we help a colleague to look good through a public “thank you.”

If we don’t praise anyone at all, our armor stays firmly in place. Nobody ever needs to know there is something we didn’t know. No one needs to know that from time to time we need help, and we can always keep to ourselves the fact that there may be someone else who is also good at doing things. If we never share anything, we are sure to always be protected.


However, the result of our self-protection efforts is that we are living in a thick suit of armor. We can’t see, we can’t breathe, and we can’t move. We definitely can’t grow.

When we show praise…when we are transparent and generous with that which we don’t know, that for which we are thankful, and those for whom we are appreciative, people are given the opportunity to connect with us in valuable tangible and intangible ways.

When you give the gift of praise and thanks to a deserving colleague, you will absolutely be making someone’s day. You will be setting a valuable example to your colleagues by showing positive, public vulnerability and appreciation. You will have the opportunity to surface important issues such as weaknesses in systems that may have been identified and resolved, customer service success stories that can be learned from, or ways that one colleague was able to help and support another colleague. As a result, your organization be more effective because people are being more transparent and more collaborative.

We all have the instinct of self-preservation and protection. But when we step out of our armor and share genuine praise, thanks and appreciation, everyone benefits.

On to Week 11!

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