Ever notice how awkward it is for some people to receive a compliment, either because it’s given somewhat backhandedly or because it feels like they are being singled out? I felt the same way until several years ago when two events took place in close proximity to each other.
First, I had purchased many copies of a book I really liked called, The Power of Acknowledgement by Judith Ulmas to give as client gifts. Shortly after the books arrived in the mail the author called me (yes, she found a way to get in touch with ME) to acknowledge my purchase and ask how I planned to use her books. Judith’s exquisite modeling of giving a direct, powerful acknowledgement allowed me to receive it with profound and heartfelt warmth.
Then, a short time later, I was facilitating a yearlong leadership development course with a colleague and the subject of acknowledgement came up. Another colleague from Nigeria explained that in his country it was common practice to physically “rub it in” when you receive a compliment – literally rubbing the hand over the heart as a way of saying thank you. The colleague I was teaching with so incorporated this into his way of being with people all the time that it is an inspiration to be around him and people always feel seen.
These experiences changed forever the way I give and receive acknowledgements (and by the way, it sometimes still feels really awkward). I now love finding ways to truly “see” others and take a pause to say a heartfelt “thank you” when I receive recognition. Why do we feel so funny about receiving something given with heart and meaning and why are we so shy about liberally showering others with, “I saw you being courageous today,” or “That was such a creative solution!” Positivity makes people shine – and studies show that it makes them more productive, happier and more fun to be around. What we appreciate, appreciates!
How about you? If you’ve read this far, you’re intrigued. I challenge you to offer an acknowledgement to everybody you see today. And just for fun, if you nothing else, watch this awesome video for a fun look at the power of being “validated.” I know you can do it – and together we will have a huge impact on those around us.