Surprise! We Appreciate You!


Wow! What a nice surprise! My boss’s world-famous muffins appeared on my desk again after I completed my latest project. You wrote a song just for me to say “thank you.” What a clever hand-made card telling me you made a donation to my favorite charity to celebrate my 5th anniversary with the company.

Think back to the last time you were surprised in a positive way. How did it make you feel? I bet you’re smiling with gratitude and appreciation just thinking about it. You see, a little surprise treat or unexpected, thoughtful gesture goes a long way in building a connection.

Roger Collantes, President of Global Learning Solutions, states that many celebrations fizzle out because of a lack of creativity, spontaneity, and originality. Too many celebrations are institutionalized, losing their meaning and thrill they used to deliver. This is the 34th year that the holiday party has served the same tired turkey with gravy accompanied by a long, boring awards program. Can you please just mail me my award along with the money you saved on the Turkey dinner? Do your organization’s celebrations and awards banquets need a little surprise?

National Speakers Association Colorado President, Dean Savoca believes organizations would be better off discontinuing or shaking-up any event that doesn’t have a lot of positive energy around it. This year, he traded the traditional President’s Awards Dinner for “Margaritas in the Mountains.” Attendance is up and the fun meter is reaching new heights!

But it’s not enough to just add something new.  Events and acts recognizing and celebrating those around us must be personalized. Some organizations spend big money on a major event that showcases the honoree in front of the entire organization, only to find out later that he or she hates to be recognized in public. Do your homework ahead of time. Be sensitive to the likes and dislikes of your employees and co-workers.

Do you want to make the biggest impact when celebrating individual accomplishments or milestones? Customize the surprise. Find out what’s high on the recipient’s “joy list” and sprinkle the surprise with personalization. Check with family members, friends, and coworkers to make sure you’re on target. Involve a son or daughter, add their favorite foods, and include music they love. Put aside your preferences to focus on what they love. For example, instead of surprising a stressed employee with just any movie pass, make it tickets to the newest, highest-rated comedy since funny movies are his or her favorite.

Alleviate stress and boost morale in any office by providing a massage therapist, reflexologist, fortune teller, or caricaturist. Break-up tense meetings with the office’s favorite cookies or treats. A mid-day field trip to a toy store or old fashioned candy store can immediately shift employees into a celebration mindset and away from the stressors of the day. A mid-day Karaoke break or cheese tasting can do the same. You’ll be surprised at the positive results of providing time for your employees to recharge their batteries. And you’ll be making big deposits in their emotional bank accounts for making the effort and showing you care.

Remember, recognition works best when you add a positive surprise. Personalization and creativity go a long way in turning an ordinary celebration into something extraordinary.

Written by:

Scott Friedman

Scott Friedman, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) and former President of the National Speakers Association (NSA), is an internationally sought after professional speaker and author. As a motivational humorist, Scott inspires and entertains with engaging, interactive, and content-rich programs. Scott’s main areas of expertise are employee innovation & engagement, customer experience, and creating a happier, more connected workplace and life.

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