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Recognition & appreciation make for great Valentine's day gifts

Whether or not you buy into a one day celebration of romantic love, abhor the very idea, or deem it an excuse for Hallmark to make money, it is a great opportunity to reflect upon the relationships in our lives and if we honour and appreciate them as best as we can.

T Harv Eker, author of the secrets of a millionaire mind, provides a very clear explanation as to what happens to the people in our lives that we don’t appreciate and value. Although Eker writes about money, he uses relationships to illustrate his point. He argues that people don’t stay around when we mistreat, neglect and take them for granted- nor does money (but that's for another post).

In a recent HBR article entitled, Why employees need both recognition and appreciation, author Mike Robins explains the difference between these two concepts.

Recognition, he argues, is based on positive performance and dolled out when employees meet objectives or exceed expectations. It is acknowledged by a promotion, award, bonus, gift, raise, a thank you note or a public acknowledgement of one's efforts.

Recognition is powerful. We all want to be recognized for our contributions.

But, we don't always exceed expectations and sometimes we miss the mark and even fail. That is where appreciation comes in. It is important to appreciate people's efforts. If all we do as managers, bosses and teachers is praise those who are successful, we miss opportunities to acknowledge people for who they are.

Recognition, Robins explains, acknowledges what people do. It is important for employee motivation, creating a culture of engagement and high performance.

Appreciation is about celebrating who people are, their inherent value as fellow humans.

Robins quotes Oprah Winfrey's commencement speech at Harvard in which Winfrey explains that after interviewing over 35,000 people, which include presidents, housewives, victims and perpetrators, when the camera stops recording everyone single person asked - was that oky? Was I oky? She further comments, we all want to be seen, we all want to be heard.

The story reminded me of one I tell in my Tiny Tweaks, Transformative Results seminar and comes from Catherine McCarthy, Jean Gomes, and Tony Schwartz's book, The way we are working isn't working. The authors recount a story about a prisoner who continuously assaulted guards and kept on receiving increasingly severe punishments until he ended up in solitary confinement 24 hours a day. To deal with the prisoner, Dr. James Gilligan, a professor of Psychiatry and expert on violence, was brought in to see if he could help.

Gilligan asked the inmate,

“what do you want so badly that you are willing to give up everything else in order to get it?"​

The prisoner replied,

Pride. Dignity. Self-esteem. And I’ll kill every mXXXXX fXXXX in that cell block if I have to, in order to get it. If you ain’t got pride. You ain’t got nothing.​

Gilligan wasn't at all surprised. In fact, reflecting on his 40 year career he explained,

I have been struck by the frequency with which I received the same answer when I asked prisoners, or mental health patients, why they assaulted or even killed someone. Time after time, they would reply, ‘because he disrespected me’… I never got so much respect before in my life as I did when I pointed a gun at some dude’s face”.

We all want to be recognized for our achievements and appreciated for who we are.

Research findings indicate that most people leave organizations due to a lack of recognition and appreciation.

When you ask people if they would like to be compensated for their efforts with a promotion or bonus, very few will tell you NO. However, many will add they want to be acknowledged for their efforts.

This Valentine's day, or on any day for that matter, but start today, do one of the following:

  • Recognize someone in a team meeting.

  • Start your day with an email that praises a colleague.

  • Leave a thank you note on someone’s desk appreciating his or her efforts to your most recent project.

Get creative!

It's human nature to crave recognition and its good business practice to verbally acknowledge the efforts of those with whom we work. While it is great to do so privately, it is even better to do so publicly.

And remember it must be genuine. Disingenuous words of recognition or appreciation are never well received. In fact, you are better off saying nothing if you have nothing sincere to say!

I wish you all a happy day filled with appreciation and recognition for all that you do, and for the very people that you are.

Drop me a line and let me know who in your world you appreciate, and why? I want to hear.

And by the way, the people in your personal life - they too want to be recognized and appreciated. So make sure to show them some acknowledgement as well. That is the beauty of soft skills, they transfer from one domain of your life to the others.

To your success!

Dr. Gill

Not yet apart of our tribe? What are you waiting for! We love meeting new people.



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