Wednesday, December 15, 2010
In the writing world, we writers often do a lot for each other—give critiques, help promote a new book, write up book reviews, link to blog posts, shout out on twitter or facebook, etc. Most of the writers I’ve met have big hearts and end up giving the shirt off their backs to help others.
When we give of our limited time to help, but then, for whatever reason, don’t feel like the recipient really cares that we made an effort, the unappreciation stings. Maybe we’re not expecting anything in return. But a simple acknowledgement of our help or small thank you would go a long way.
This past fall with the release of my first book, The Preacher’s Bride, I’ve been on the receiving end of a LOT of help from a LOT of different people. Many of YOU bought my book and that, in and of itself, is an incredible support for which I am deeply grateful. Others went above and beyond, offering me interviews, writing up book reviews, shouting out the news wherever they could, and so much more. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
However, now that I’m several months into my debut, I can’t help but wonder if I’ve made anyone feel unappreciated for all of their work on my behalf. Recently, someone anonymously left a comment expressing a feeling of unappreciation for their work as an influencer. And even though it wasn’t directed at me (or maybe it was!), I still took the comment to heart. Had I somehow missed expressing my gratitude to those who’ve helped me?
With worry slipping over the frozen pool of my heart, I thought back to the chaos of the past few months. What had I done wrong? What could I do differently next time to make sure that everyone who supports me knows just how much I appreciate it?
I’m still mulling over those questions. In the meantime, here are a few of my thoughts about how we can all deal with those times when we’re feeling unappreciated:
Give without expecting anything in return.
As hard as it is, we really will build better relationships if we’re giving selflessly, without the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” attitude. I always feel a bit icky when someone helps me (and I think they’re doing it because they really want to), but then a few weeks later they ask me for a favor.
I’ve tried to make it my personal philosophy that I give without asking for anything in return. I choose projects carefully, whether that’s a critique for a friend or an endorsement on a book. And once I agree to help someone out, I let them know I absolutely don’t expect them to reciprocate. I’m helping them because I'm already blessed in so many different ways.
Put ourselves in the place of the other person.
When I’m feeling unappreciated, I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes and imagine what their unique situation and circumstances are. Perhaps they’re just too busy to keep up on social media life, especially every comment and every tweet.
Since I’ve now been in the situation of being completely overwhelmed (especially during the initial weeks before and after my book’s release), I realize just how hard it is to keep up with interviews, reviews, blog comments, and tweets. Although I tried really hard to visit each blog that either hosted me for an interview or reviewed my book, I may have unintentionally missed someone. I also didn’t have the chance to tweet about or put a link on facebook for every interview or review. As much as I would have liked to bring attention to each one, I didn’t want to gag my followers with an overdose of promotion on my book.
Give others the benefit of the doubt.
When we don’t understand why someone isn’t showing us appreciation, we can still show them grace. We don’t need to get angry and stop following them or refuse to support them. In fact, if their lack of appreciation hurt us significantly enough, then perhaps we need to write them a private email and kindly express our feelings. Often open communication is all it takes to clear up a misunderstanding.
Do our best to show appreciation to others.
When it’s all said and done, we can’t control how other people act. But we can make an effort to continue doing our best at showing our gratitude for the good things others do for us. In fact, we can give simply because it usually blesses us more than the recipient.
Of course there will always be those who will use people and toss them aside when they no longer need them. So, yes, we do need to be careful about setting boundaries, offering our help judiciously, and not letting others take advantage of our willing spirit.
However, most writers I’ve met are truly generous people. If we all have the attitude of helping and encouraging one another without expecting anything in return, just think how much good we can do for one another!
What about you? Have you ever worked hard to help someone only to feel that your efforts went unappreciated? How did you handle the situation?
P.S. There's still time to enter The Preacher's Bride Christmas giveaway! The deadline for entering is Thursday Dec. 16 at 10:00 P.M. For rules and to enter click here.
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