Would you like to be more effective at appreciating the people around you?
An important distinction we can make in our desire to appreciate the people around us more successfully is to remember the difference between recognition and acknowledgement.
Recognition is about rewarding the actions and results of others. It’s important, as most of us like to be recognized (even if we get a little uncomfortable or embarrassed about it) and many of us notice (or get upset) when we don’t get recognized, especially if we think we deserve it.
As important as recognition is, it’s also limited for a few reasons. First of all, it’s always past based. Second of all, not everyone responds to or is motivated by recognition in the same way. Third and most importantly, it’s always about results, what people have done, and what they’ve accomplished, not necessarily who they are.
Acknowledgment on the other hand, includes recognition, but can be much broader, personal, and ultimately powerful. An acknowledgement is any act of appreciation for another person. A performance award is an acknowledgement (based on results), but so is a smile (which may or may not be based on anything specific). Telling your spouse or child they did a good job cleaning up the house is also an acknowledgment (based on something they did), but telling them that you love them and how grateful you are to have them in your life can be done for any reason and at any time.
If we want to have the people around us feel appreciated, it’s important for us to focus more on who they are as human beings, what we appreciate about them personally, and not simply focus on what they accomplish or don’t. And, sometimes the most important time for us to acknowledge others is when they fail or make a mistake. While we can’t always acknowledge the outcome, we can almost always acknowledge the effort.
Utilizing the power of appreciation and becoming a master at the art of appreciating others is about us both re-actively recognizing the great things that people do and more importantly pro-actively acknowledging them for who they are, what qualities they have, and how they positively impact our lives and others simply by being who they are.
Action: What You Can Do
Think of three or more people in your life who you interact with on a regular basis. For each person, think of something specific you can acknowledge them for – not something they’ve done or accomplished, but something about who they are that you appreciate. It could be their attitude, their effort, their commitment, their friendship, their humor, their honesty, or anything else…feel free to come up with more than one thing, as I’m sure there are many.
Take some time today to let each of these people know and to acknowledge them personally, not because they did anything to “deserve” it, but simply because you feel moved let them know how they impact you in a positive way. Have fun with it and see what happens!