Even in a context of competition, appreciative attitude transforms envy into learning and transforms personal achievement into a sense of overall purpose and value. The essayist, Roger Rosenblatt (1997), reveals just such a process in candidly describing his sense of competition with other writers. He suggests that his sense of admiration for the work of other writers serve a critical function in his own life:
Part of the satisfaction in becoming an admirer of the competition is that it allows you to wonder how someone else did something well, so that you might imitate it—steal it, to be blunt. But the best part is that it shows you that there are things you will never learn to do, skills and tricks that are out of your range, an entire imagination that is out of your range. The news may be disappointing on a personal level, but in terms of the cosmos, it is strangely gratifying. One sits among the works of one’s contemporaries as in a planetarium, head all the way back, eyes gazing up at heavenly matter that is all the more beautiful for being unreachable. Am I growing up?
Paradoxically, at the point that people are fully appreciated and reaffirmed they tend to live up to their newly acclaimed talents and drive, just as they live down to their depreciated sense of self if constantly criticized or undervalued. Carl Rogers suggested many years ago that people are least likely to change if they are being asked to change. People are more likely to change when they have received positive regard. Appreciation and positive regard certainly seem to be closely related concepts.
Recognizing the Value of Cooperation
A final mode of appreciation is evident in the attitude of cooperation in a closely-held enterprise. An organization is appreciative when efforts are made to form cooperative relationships and recognize the mutual benefits that can be derived from this cooperation. A culture of appreciation provides organizational integration. It is the glue that holds a closely-held enterprise together while the enterprise is growing and differentiating into distinctive units of responsibility. The appreciative perspective is particularly important when there are significant differences in vision, values or other cultural elements among members of an organization or among independent organizations that seek to work together. If genuine and productive cooperation is to take place, then appreciation must embrace both judgments about reality and judgments about value.