, ,

The ABCs of Encouraging Each Other: Creating Better Relationships


I know it’s uncommon in government service, but we have to encourage each other. I have found in my years of service that our work, although fulfilling and extremely demanding, RARELY includes an encouraging word or thank you.

As I was preparing this blog, I had time to reflect on what I take for granted on a daily basis. I wake up every morning and never consider who watched our borders all night. As I’m eating breakfast, I never consider who inspected the carcasses of pork I so enjoy or the eggs I lovingly fry when there’s time. I dress in clothing made of materials I did not personally grow or fabricate, drive a car I could not have created, work in a country I have — more often than not — criticized for what’s wrong, instead of being grateful for what is right. I work for an agency that is less than 200 years old and is critical to ensuring the safety of the nation’s food supply and protecting the public health; I am EVER grateful for being the frontline of defense for the American consumers.

  1. Applaud all contributions to the team big and small. I work with inspectors who perform the same duty repetitively day in and day out. Their presence ensures poultry carcasses are wholesome and unadulterated. Yet, they may only hear “thank you” after the appraisal process is complete and they have received an award for merit. These inspectors work long hours in extreme conditions. I make a conscious effort to let the team I am assigned to know how much I appreciate their work and celebrate their contributions. Sometimes, that celebration may be a little more than a sticky note with a smiley face and “thank you” in all capital letters; other times, it may be a catered lunch for the office. People truly do not care how much you know….they only want to know how much you care.
  2. Create a culture of inclusion. I am responsible for maintaining open lines of communication with management at my assignment. I have a weekly meeting with management to discuss issues I have identified within the facility. On my present assignment, I have included a section in my meeting agenda titled “inspector concerns” to give my team a place to voice their issues. We are a TEAM (together everyone achieves more).
  3. Show interest in your coworkers’ lives outside of work. I attended a leadership training earlier this year. One of the things I learned in that program was that people remember your personal details more than they remember your job title.  I never mixed my business and personal life previously; what a disservice I have done to my career!  Do you realize more promotions are based on personal relationships and connections than that FAT resume you believe is so impressive?

Now, I know these tips seem sophomoric, but honestly, you really did learn all you needed to know in kindergarten. There you learned how to play well with others, how to respect boundaries (and keep your hands to yourself), the beginnings of self-expression, etc. We are all the same in some ways; everyone likes to feel important, appreciated, worthy. The next opportunity you have, walk up to one of your coworkers and introduce yourself……Not, ‘hi, I’m Adrienne and I’m a consumer safety inspector,’ but ‘hi, I’m Adrienne and I’ve always wanted to be a race car driver.’ I promise you will meet an entirely new coworker because you will learn something about that person you never knew.

Adrienne Nelson-Reynolds is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

Leave a Comment

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Wanda Fuentes

Adrienne, you are an amazing writer and utilize such powerful words! I love it! Thank you will never be sufficient to express how grateful I am for you and your willingness to share and express, with such passion, your thoughts and feelings to the world as you’ve done on your blogs. Exceptional job!!