My Favorite Word
By Usha Ramaswamy
Senior School Head at The Shri Ram Universal School Hyderabad
Foreword by Venkat
There could be two reasons to be lost. Either we don’t know where we are going or we don’t know the right route. All education, knowledge, tradition and culture give us various abstractions, concepts, means and symbols to tread back on the right track. In other words the various stories, theories, models, laws, sciences, theorems, algorithms, and so on become guiding lights for us to move on than be lost or reinvent the wheel.
Despite these, there is a third reason to become lost (which seems more common) and that is in not being self-aware – of doubt and confusion while being on the right track. Here is where feedback matters and nothing could be better for the good to be told that they are good. Appreciation even for the tiniest things are instant guiding lights that bring energy and firm one’s commitment to doing the good.
Ms. Usha Ramaswamy, the Chief Appreciation Officer (in her friend’s words) unravels the science behind the art of appreciation and the special wonders it brought to her interpersonal interactions. The law of reciprocation always works be it in thought, deed or words of appreciation. An excellent choice of her favorite word that reflects in her beautiful experiences.
Reflect on what appreciation has done for you in your lives in this lovely recount by Usha.
Usha is an educator who enjoys bringing the world into her classroom. A believer in the importance of student voice, she is currently the Senior School Head of a leading school in Hyderabad.
My Favorite Word
The youngest in the family is in the process of writing her essays for college admissions. Since this is the third time that I am involved with the process of admissions, I have begun to look forward to ideating, identifying, debating, penning, pruning and polishing the essays as the topics are thought provoking and lead to introspection, reflection, brainstorming and discussion.
One of the topics that has been assigned is to write about a word that you like the most in any language and to specify the reasons for the same. We did a discussion around this topic and I came up with the word ‘appreciate’ as my favorite word.
I tend to use the word appreciate a lot. Like everyone else, not only do I appreciate a cheerful smile, a well kept garden, a flattering dress, a flavourful dish, new hair cut, a compliment, timely work submission but also someone with an eye for detail, a thought provoking class, a lilting tune, a gentle touch to name just a few. I have been the recipient of innumerable hugs and compliments from friends and colleagues, complimentary meals at restaurants, extra comforts at hotels, loyalty and love, and much much more.
I realise that because I notice the smaller things done by others and appreciate them spontaneously, people are quite willing to listen to my suggestions and feedback. Moreover, it enables me to build bonds beyond the work place, my role and location, and spread smiles. In turn, I also receive much appreciation for my style of functioning, and end up smiling more often.
At one point in my career, I was using the word so much that a dear friend suggested that I be appointed the Chief Appreciation Officer of my school as it was something that came naturally to me.
As I was reflecting on the word, I realised that there are many components that are embedded in the process of appreciation – observation, sincerity of purpose, choice of words and timing. All these components have to work in tandem for one to be an effective ‘appreciator’. It requires investment of time, energy and effort. It cannot be without purpose or authenticity as even children can sniff insincerity from a mile away!
The other aspect of appreciation is to be able to give specific feedback on areas of improvement with concrete steps that can be taken to reach the desired outcome.
I think I have covered some distance in this journey of appreciation. I am reminded of the Bard’s famous speech from The Merchant of Venice about the quality of mercy in which he states that both the giver and the receiver of mercy are blessed. I would like to add that this is true even for appreciation.
This new year, I promise to appreciate more and in turn receive more appreciation!
By Usha Ramaswamy