Read The Smiths

The Value of Receiving Recognition

By: Julie Michelle Smith


Life is a struggle for recognition. When we are young, we long for the praise of our parents. When we're teenagers, we want to impress our friends. When we've grown up and found love, we want the other to see how much effort we put into the relationship.

When, on the other hand, people do not recognize how much time and effort we put into something, our feelings get as hurt just as much as when our parents ignored us when we were growing up. This gives food for thought. Obviously if we want others to recognize our efforts, we should recognize theirs. The best way to give people the recognition they deserve? Just keep these five guidelines in mind.

1. Be specific

Give details about what the other person did that is being recognized, and also be specific about the result of his or her actions -- tell the other how the behavior made you feel. Don't say 'you're so sweet', instead say 'it's so sweet of you that you've made dinner because I had a long day at work today -- it makes me feel beloved'. It's important to be specific because it identifies and reinforces the desired behavior: the next time you come home late, your partner will feel more encouraged to cook.

2. Be sincere

Don't give recognition just for the sake of giving recognition. Be sincere about the behavior you appreciated. People want to deserve recognition, not just get it.

3. Be personal

Thank the person by name, preferably in person and in a personal way. You have to know the other's personality: thanking someone with a bottle of wine when he or she is a teetotaler will completely miss the target. Worse: the other person might take offense. Instead, thank the person in a way you know will be appreciated. Don't forget to explain how the behavior made you feel.


4. Use different approaches

Don't always give recognition in the same way. It's important to use different approaches because it will emphasize the uniqueness of each action. There are many different ways to express your recognition: for instance by giving the other a small gift, going out for coffee together, sending a postcard with a personal message, or just taking the time to talk to the other.

5. Don't wait too long

The impact of getting recognition is much greater when it's shortly after the action or behavior, so don't wait too long with giving it. You don't want to get a letter by your employer to thank you for attracting a new client, one year after afterwards, as it will seem insincere.

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