My mother taught me to be polite and say “Please” and “Thank you” when interacting with others. I am sure yours did too.
However, there is a much greater potential power in acknowledging, recognizing, praising and thanking people than good manners.
Committed people who aspire for excellence tend to often be too self-critical and also too critical of others. We tend to focus on what isn’t working, what is wrong, broken, bad and negative more than on the good things.
The critical perspective is often legitimate – meaning, people and teams could do better – and if you are level headed about criticizing yourself in an authentic way without taking it personally, it could be empowering and motivating. It could make you want to strive to do better.
However, let’s be honest, most of us are not super great at being motivated by criticism. We tend to feel invalidated and as a result, we lower our sights and become more resigned and cynical about what is possible for us. And for those of us who are better at it, we also need some positive reinforcement from time to time.
Acknowledgment, recognition and praise highlight the greatness, affirmative and positive in people and teams.
Highlighting what is good and positive is so easy to do. It doesn’t cost a dime and it makes so much difference. However, most people suck at it.
Either because they are stingy or because they are lazy. Yes, you heard it right, stingy or lazy.
The stingy have a ‘zero-sum’ mindset. They believe that if they make other people’s brand greater it will inevitably make their brand lower. This comes from a cynical point of view that “There is only a limited amount of greatness, recognition, compliments, and praise to go around, so I want it all to myself…”
The lazy misunderstand the essence and magic of acknowledgment, recognition, praise, and gratitude altogether. They think it about it as conveying information or data. If you ask the lazy “Why don’t you recognize the person who did all these great things for you?”, they would say: “Well, I already told them how great they are last week. I don’t need to tell them again. They already know it.”
But acknowledgment, recognition, and praise are not at all about sharing information or data. It is about touching people’s hearts genuinely and profoundly.
When you acknowledge, recognize and/or praise someone sincerely, from your heart, it goes directly to their heart and soul. It makes them feel unique and special; it makes them feel seen and heard; it makes them feel valued and valuable; it uplifts their spirit and energizes and empowers them.
Highlighting the greatness in others requires courage and generosity.
The good news is that there is never a scarcity of what you can recognize others for. You can acknowledge them for their spirit and heart; for their effort, dedication and behaviors; for their achievements and results. You just need to get over your potential stinginess or laziness.
I recommend you take on a practice of acknowledging at least one person every day and see how people react and what magic it creates.
The only advice I would add is that when you recognize someone, talk to them not about them.
For example, if you want to recognize your co-worker Joe, in a team meeting, don’t look at the rest of the team and say: “I would like to recognize Joe for staying every night this week to help me complete project x…“. Instead, look at Joe and say: “Joe, I would like to recognize you for staying every night this week to help me complete project x…”.
If you start practicing and adding this muscle to your daily routine at first it will feel like a technique. However, the more you practice the more it will become a part of your DNA; Just the way you approach relationships and interactions.
Needless to say, recognizing and praising people doesn’t cost a dime, but it can provide priceless value and impact. Try it and see for yourself.