At its richest, the sharing and receiving of gratitude can be a deeply personal interaction between two individuals. In practice, the impact of each interaction varies according to the experience, preferences and world-view of each.
As society acknowledges its responsibilities around respecting individuals' boundaries for social interaction, a need has been exposed for clarifying individual preferences within those boundaries. This idea suggests that by taking note of how an individual prefers to interact, future exchanges will be more welcomed, less stressful and more effective.
This idea only addresses preferences within the realm of legally and professionally-accepted behaviors. Abuse or harassment fall outside the scope of this idea.
The focus of this idea is to alleviate some of the concerns that something well-intentioned might instead have the reverse effect, causing stress or 'missing the mark'.
The construction of an 'Interaction Preferences Profile' (IP Profile) is likely to fall under the domain and responsibility of the Human Resources department, and it should be shared with new hires soon after employment begins. Existing employees should be interviewed regarding their preferences as soon as such a program is initiated.
While it's important to explain the intent and the particulars of the IP Profile to employees in a timely manner, all employees should be allowed time, possibly weeks or months, to consider their feelings and get to know their colleagues before filling it out. They should also be able to update it whenever they choose. The intent should be to be honest, not to rush anyone into a decision.
One of the most important elements offered through this idea is that since the IP Profile contains straightforward, easily understandable concepts shared across all employees of a company, one employee could reference the standard IP Profile to rebuff another’s unwanted behavior without additional explanation. (Ex: “Stop. I’m not comfortable with that level of physical contact.”)
As part of the HR system, employee feedback on colleagues' adherence to preferred interactions should also be solicited periodically, especially if there have been incidents, and during employee reviews, helping to measure success and drive refinements. Any negative incidents should be addressed quickly and thoughtfully, with action plans put in place to resolve differences.
Four areas of particular importance were identified and illustrated as continuums (ranges). This enables users to select their preferences by highlighting those illustrations which they are comfortable with, rather than by attempting to interpret lengthy blocks of text.
The four continuums, with example preferences shown, include:
- Management Style
- Acknowledgement: Private/Public
- Physical Contact Comfort
- 'Rewards/Gifts' Preference
Version 1 of the IP Profile presentation is attached to this idea-page and was shared with numerous colleagues. (Note that in the final digital version the green and red sliders will be interactive).
A number of issues were identified, including:
- Rearrange the preference continuums so users are not presented with the most challenging one (Physical Contact) first.
- The continuum images were too light.
- Some of the 'Gift' images were confusing. Text will be added to avoid confusion.
- 'Frequency' was deemed unnecessary.
- Remove the signature box to avoid the perception of 'signing away any rights'.
These issues were addressed in Version 2 of the IP Profile presentation, also attached.
This version tested well. No misunderstandings or issues were noted.
Thanks to the team and our test participants for their valuable contributions to this idea!