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What to do If You Suffer from Lack-of-Appreciation-itis at Work or at Home
by Rachel G. Baldino, MSW, LCSW for

If you feel under-appreciated and under-valued, either at work or at home, please know that you are far from alone.

But you don't have to put up with it any longer!

Let's say there are two young men, Steve and Rob, both in their mid-twenties, who work as account managers in the same company. Steve is married with a baby, and Rob is single.

They share a direct supervisor, Richard, who-whether he realizes it a conscious level or not-consistently gives Steve preferential treatment, in the sense that he allows Steve to keep very reasonable hours, and even to go home early sometimes, to help his wife with the care of their young child.

Rob, on the other hand, always seems to get the short end of the stick.

Because Rob is single, and does not have a small child at home, their mutual boss Richard routinely makes the unfair assumption that Rob has more time on his hands than Steve does. Moreover, he uses this faulty assumption as an excuse to pile more and more work on Rob, and to make him work much longer hours than Steve, though all for the same title, pay, and benefits that Steve receives.

Different Sets of Rules and Expectations for Different People

It all boils down to different sets of expectations for different employees, and it is a fundamental problem of unfairness and inequity that many individuals have to contend with every day of their lives in one form or another.

Ironically-and unfortunately-it is often the people with the strongest work ethics who get penalized the most in this area.

For instance, if Beth does well at her computer programming job by working extremely hard and conscientiously every single day, she may be rewarded with a promotion, a higher salary, etc.

Then again, she might be rewarded with a lot more work instead!

Maybe she has a colleague, Ed, who simply is not as detail-oriented as she is, but their boss, Ann, does not want to discipline or fire Ed, because even though he is really quite incompetent, he is also a "super nice guy."

So what ends up happening is that more and more of Ed's work keeps getting foisted upon responsible, dutiful, detail-oriented Beth, whereas Ed is gradually required to do less and less, all the while suffering absolutely zero consequences for his fundamental ineptitude. To the contrary, he is actually rewarded with a lighter workload.

Many people feel under-appreciated and under-valued in the workplace.

In the above two scenarios, you could say that Rob and Beth are both suffering from bad cases of "lack-of-appreciation-itis," a spirit-crushing ailment that seems to be running rampant throughout workplaces, homes, schools, neighborhoods, and other social settings all across the land. People like Rob and Beth work very hard, but rather than being justly rewarded and appreciated for their hard work, they end up being under-appreciated-or even penalized!-for all their efforts.

It's also important to note here that the simple (but invaluable) expression of appreciation can actually come in many forms-and from a wide variety of sources.

For instance, many stay-at-home-parents of small children and/or caregivers of aging, ailing family members don't necessarily expect to be "thanked" in the traditional sense of the word by those in their care. However, they certainly enjoy it when the other people in their lives acknowledge and express genuine appreciation for the extremely hard (sometimes back-breaking) work that they do, day in and day out.

But remember, just as some people are not very good at saying those two little words: "I'm sorry" (even when they ought to), there are also some people who are not particularly good at saying the words, "Thank you," or, "I'm so grateful," or, "You contribute so much to this organization (or to this family!), that words could never adequately express or fully capture just how much I (or we) appreciate everything that you do for all of us."

The Profound Value of Having "Difficult Conversations"
At Home or At Work In Order To Get Your Emotional Needs Met

Realistically, many people who feel underappreciated, undervalued and overworked at the office-especially in comparison with colleagues who seem to receive preferential treatment-simply do not feel comfortable with the idea of confronting their bosses about a problem of this nature.

But consider this: some flexible, open-minded and communicative bosses might actually appreciate being "called out" on the fact that they give preferential treatment to some workers-while making unfair demands of others-simply because they may be unaware of their negative behavior. Believe it or not, at least at a certain level, they may even appreciate having it pointed out, so that they can correct it and never do it again.

In their book, Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most, co-authors Doug Stone, Sheila Heen and Bruce Patton acknowledge that while certain conversations may make us uncomfortable, they may also be extremely important, not only to our own personal growth and development, but also to the growth and development of those around us.

In the description of their book that appears on their website, they point out that: "Conflicts that are handled badly, or avoided altogether, sap creativity, tie up energy, destroy teamwork, and lower productivity and morale. In contrast, when [difficult] conversations are handled well, collaboration and productivity are enhanced, morale goes up, and better decisions result."

Similarly, if you are feeling under-appreciated and under-valued at home by your partner, or by your children, or by just about everybody in your life, then as uncomfortable as you may feel with the idea of expressing how under-appreciated you have been feeling, it can be very beneficial to do so, not only for the sake of your own emotional well-being, but also for the sake of your family's overall emotional health.

Once again, as the authors of Difficult Conversations mention on their website: "In personal relationships, too, the fallout from poorly managed conversations is all around us. Trust diminishes, intimacy suffers, misunderstandings multiply.

elationships that are supposed to nourish us end up eating away at us. Improving how we handle our most difficult personal conversations is at the very heart of what makes these relationships satisfying."

under appreciated

Sometimes we need to have 'difficult conversations' in order to grow in our personal and/or professional relationships.

In dealing with such matters, the best approach is always the most direct one, so don't hem and haw or beat around the bush. The sooner you air your grievances and get your thoughts out in the open, the sooner your boss (or friend, or partner, or colleague, or teenage child) can work with you to get the problem solved.

Five Practical Steps to Feel More
Appreciated and Valued at Work and/or at Home

  1. Be clear, direct and concise about your need to feel more appreciated, but at the same time, make sure that your tone of voice and your choice of words are as non-accusatory as possible. People don't like to feel attacked.

  2. Use "I" statements. (In other words, say: "I feel underappreciated around here," rather than "You don't appreciate anything I do," which can come across as much harsher and more accusatory).

  3. Be willing to listen to the other person's (or people's) point of view, and to take what they say into consideration.

  4. Be very specific about exactly what you need in order to feel more appreciated and valued. Maybe you need to hear the words "Thank you" much more often than you currently do. Or maybe you need to see some specific actions (such as the children picking up after themselves on a regular basis).

  5. Give the other person (or people) some time and space to make the necessary changes in their behavior, and then, when they do express their appreciation of you (with their words and/or with their actions), be sure to acknowledge just how much you appreciate their efforts in this department. That way they can also learn firsthand just how great it feels to be truly appreciated and valued!

Recommended Reading:

How To Make All Your Relationships Work

Twelve Signs It's REALLY Time To Leave Your Job

The Emotionally Hazardous Work Environment: Is it Worth the Price You Pay?

Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most


About the Author contributing editor Rachel G. Baldino, MSW, LCSW, is the author of the e-book, Loving Simply: Eliminating Drama from Your Intimate Relationships, published in 2006 by, and the print book, Welcome to Methadonia: A Social Worker's Candid Account of Life in a Methadone Clinic, published in 2000 by White Hat Communications.

Her articles have appeared in Social Work Today, The New Social Worker, New Living Magazine, and other publications. After earning her MSW from the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work in1997, she provided counseling services, first at a methadone clinic, and later at an outpatient mental health treatment facility.

Ms. Baldino has been quoted about managing anger in relationships in Kathy Svitil's 2006 book, Calming The Anger Storm, which is part of the Psychology Today Here To Help series. She has also been quoted in such magazines, newspapers and online publications as For Me Magazine, Conceive Magazine, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Albany Times Union, The Tallahassee Democrat, Bay State Parent Magazine,,,, The Newhouse News Service, and Indianapolis Woman. She lives with her husband and children in Massachusetts.

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