Saying “thank you” is a special art. When someone does something that we want to compliment or are grateful for, many of us give a common passing “good job, I appreciate it” remark. A simple thank you can become profound recognition by following a three-fold method of giving thanks:
– make the general remark that you are used to making.
“That was a very good presentation you made, Rob.”
– tell the person specifically what you liked, what behavior you are especially trying to reinforce. “I particularly liked the way you used humor to make a point about the changes we’ll have to make in the department.”
– generalize from this specific instance to a personality trait or character strength. ” Your sense of humor always gets us through rough times. I sure admire that.”
In I Saw What You Did & I Know Who You Are, Janis Allen, a consultant from Atlanta, Georgia, calls using a positive statement about a specific performance- a “lead-in to universal praise.” “Think of it this way,” she says. “If you can name a specific behavior that someone does or has done, and go on to say, ‘This conveys your professionalism, your diligence, your eye for detail,’ then you’ve done a good job of reinforcing. You are telling that person, ‘This specific event is indicative of something I’m proud of about your habits and I like the way you run your life.’ Who couldn’t use hearing a remark like that once in a while.'”
A smile or a compliment can go a long way. These simple acts are the foundations of true recognition. Phase one recognition is AWARENESS – letting someone know that you know that they exist – that who they are makes a difference, that they matter, that they are important. And, that’s at the heart of what we all want most of in life..
APPRECIATION is phase two of Recognition – when we let someone know we are grateful for what they have done. If we use the three-fold approach of expressing gratitude, highlighting specific behavior and then generalizing to a universal quality of the person, we have gone a long way in helping to change those negative imprints. People must first believe in their own quality before they can produce quality work.
Phase three is ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. When our compliments and thank you’s are universalized to a person’s qualities or character, we’ve begun to understand acknowledgement. Actually, the acknowledgment phase is essential for recognition to have any lasting effect. Becoming master acknowledgers requires understanding human nature, human behavior, and what motivates people. We feel acknowledged when we can say, “they really know me; they ‘get’ who I am.” When this goes a step further, and we really let people know that they are worthwhile individuals, we have moved into the phase of Recognition known as ACCEPTANCE. It is at this phase that recognition progresses from being something nice to do to a life-changing appreciation of the uniqueness of each individual.