No praise needed for a job well-done

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Have you ever noticed that words of praise lift us momentarily, while sharp words of criticism often linger, prompting thoughts of what we should have said in response, over and over, for days on end.
What silly creatures we humans can be at times!
I am reminded of this on a daily basis ever since I started a job that calls for a constant flurry of contact with the sometimes demanding public.
Dissolved into tears. The one thing I have noticed is that a demanding individual will prey on the weakest link, honing in on youth, basic insecurities and that in-born eagerness to please.
I watched a young girl dissolved into tears because a man berated her for some silly thing that she had no control over anyway, and she was not her usual happy self the rest of the day.
Some of us toughen up with age, but that element of desire for praise remains strong. It can be incredibly tough to ignore.
Strong enough. I realize now that some of the chores that fell to us on the farm as kids taught us not only how to work, but to grow strong enough to not expect praise for a decent job completed as expected.
Such things as milking twice a day, every day – a chore that would be huge for many kids – was simply expected.
We were not going to be cajoled into getting up on time or making it to the barn shortly after returning home from school every single afternoon. It was the way it was, and we knew better than to complain or to show up late, which just meant being in the barn that much longer into the night, cutting into homework time.
We were still expected to bring home exemplary report cards from school, after all.
Complaints. Because of this, it is so hard for me to listen to complaints from young people who wish they could have slept longer, or wish they had more days off, or wish the boss would recognize their awesome presence and praise them more.
I learned, long ago, to work as a team, and the joy of a job well-done was celebrated within that team. We learned not only work ethic to the core, but we learned empathy for one another.
If one of my sisters wasn’t feeling well, we were willing to help pull her weight, knowing that the same would be done for us if and when it became necessary.
I also learned that the finished product was sometimes the only reward. There might not be praise, there obviously was no pay, and yet, we cared enough to do the job well, day in and day out.
Sometimes, those lessons learned long ago can be worth more than we know.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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