The Positive Power of Recognition
Each month, I feature one of my top-ten core values. This is my fourth: Recognize others.
Recently, I threw a terrific party. It was the milestone 60th birthday for two friends, and I wanted to honor them. Friends and family came together, each showing the birthday duo just how much they’re loved and appreciated. Toasts were made. Food and drinks were shared. A night to remember!
Big events shine a spotlight on the guests of honor, reminding us to recognize people in our lives. And show our gratitude.
You’ve seen it happen at retirement parties. Graduations. Service award celebrations.
You get the idea.
But what about when people aren’t in the spotlight? When there isn’t a “big event” happening? When they’re just going about their daily business? Do we still take the time to acknowledge, recognize or celebrate them?
Do you think we should?
Get your copy of my free worksheet. It features this month’s core value, Recognize Others. Expect a new worksheet every month.
So often, we focus only on the big picture. We forget to say thank you to the people who helped make it happen.
But when we’re truly walking the walk as leaders — and being our best selves — we need to recognize others. For their achievements — large and small. And for being their best selves, too.
“The single most important lesson I learned in 25 years, talking every single day to people, was that there’s a common denominator in our human experience … we want to be validated.” — Oprah Winfrey
In fact, don’t we all crave acknowledgment? To be seen and valued?
When someone recognizes us, we feel special inside. Like we matter.
Related: Let’s Celebrate YOU!
And even when we turn away from the spotlight — even when we say, “oh, that was nothing!” — deep down, we know it was something. Getting that acknowledgment often means more to us than we let on.
For me, recognizing others is one of my core values. It just feels good all the way around.
And you know what? Once you’re aware of this universal need for acknowledgment, it can take you very little effort to recognize or celebrate others. Here are some Power Challenges to help you get started.
Power Challenge 1: Be intentional.
Ready to try on this core value of recognizing others? Step one: Be deliberate about it.
Start by taking a few minutes today to reflect on the past week. Did anyone do anything special or “extra” for you? At home? At work? In the neighborhood?
It can be something big. Or small.
Chances are, someone will come to mind if you think about this long enough!
Once you have them in mind, send them a quick text or email. Let them know you appreciate their effort. It can be as simple telling someone how much you appreciated them making your final report look more professional, catching your typos.
Related: Gratitude, Your Way
Or it can be a note of encouragement for that new person at work, letting them know you’re happy they joined the team. Want to go a step further? After acknowledging the new hire, send a note to their manager. Say “job well done” in onboarding the employee.
Each week, create a list of two or three people you want to recognize. Before the week is over, reach out and let those people know they’re seen and heard!
Make these gestures of acknowledgment a priority. And notice the impact they have on others’ lives. In my life, I’m always pleasantly surprised by the results. And I hope you will be, too.
“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” — Margaret Cousins
Power Challenge 2: Keep it about them, not you.
How often do you hear someone take over a conversation? It can be easy to fall into the trap of turning the attention on yourself — even when you didn’t intend to.
For example, let’s say your colleague just ran their first 5K race. You’re saying, “Wow, that’s awesome! I know how hard that must have been!” But before you know it, you add, “I once ran a 10K. Now was that was grueling experience …”
Whoops! You think you’re showing empathy. Being relatable. But you’re actually shifting the spotlight away from them … and onto yourself.
Next thing you know, they’re congratulating you on your 10K.
Just like that, you’ve just minimized their accomplishment. And negated the effect of your celebratory comments.
Related: Don’t Be Rude
So, remember: When giving someone recognition — make it all about them.
If you catch yourself shifting the focus, simply stop. Redirect. Bring the conversation back to their achievement. It’s as simple as that.
Power Challenge 3: Saying thanks? Be specific.
“Thank you” is an incredibly important phrase. It’s a form of acknowledgment. A way to tell someone: “I’ve seen your effort. I value you — and what you did.”
But here’s the catch. To achieve the truly positive effect you want, you must let the person know what exactly you’re thanking them for!
When you’re specific, there’s no room for confusion. The recipient knows just what they did to earn your appreciation. It assures them your gratitude is sincere. Not something said off-the-cuff, without thought.
Tailor your words of gratitude and recognition to the recipient and situation.
The more personal you can be, the better. You’ll build genuine bonds of communication and trust.
Related: What Message Is Your Body Language Sending?
So, don’t say, “Thank you for doing such a good job.” It’s valuable, but vague. Instead, try something like, “I really appreciate you working late last night to help me finish my presentation. Without your creative touch, it wouldn’t have been nearly as compelling. The clients loved it!”
When you do it this way, you’re not just recognizing the hard work and extra time that someone devoted to help you. You’re also acknowledging their special traits — in this case, creativity and talent. You amplify your positive impact, and the recipient knows your words are truly about them.
The ripple effect
In today’s world, being ignored or feeling invisible is unfortunately quite common. But here’s a secret. When you recognize others, you create a domino effect. You’re modeling for others. They will reciprocate and acknowledge you. And others, too.
… Everyone benefits!
We’ll all stand a little taller. We’ll all feel a bounce in our step! And we’ll all feel good about ourselves. Who doesn’t want to practice a core value that creates all that?
So, give it a try. Don’t wait! There’s someone who needs your recognition right now. You just need to see it and say it. And I’ll bet you’ll both feel great as you do.
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Carla inspires leaders and team members — and provides real-world tips to become the best version of themselves that they can be. Contact her today.