In session 8 of the Carnegie course, we focused on giving and receiving positive recognition. We divided into small groups, and every person in a group recognized something positive about every other person in the group. I took away several things from this exercise:
- It can be challenging to offer praise and compliments, but it can also be tough and awkward to receive them. Most of us don’t know how to accept a compliment. We argue, explain, downplay, correct, or various other goof ups that make the exchange awkward. It’s far better to just say, “Thank you.”
- People appreciate compliments on their things. They appreciate compliments on their achievements more. They appreciate compliments on their personal traits the most.
- Evidence makes recognition more effective. It’s good to say, “You’re smart.” But it’s better to say, “You’re smart. I like the way you figured out X. You’re understanding of X saved us a lot of money.”
- We often neglect to offer recognition for a number of reasons. We’re busy, it’s not our habit, or we feel awkward or embarrassed. But if we practice it, it becomes easier, and we get better at it.
People normally respond very positively to recognition. They want to live up to what you say about them. If you tell them they’re a hard worker, and you mean it, they’ll try to prove you right.
I often hesitate to offer compliments because I feel that things aren’t my business. I don’t want to seem nosy or meddlesome. This is a mistake. As Mary Kay Ash said, “Everyone wants to be appreciated. So if you appreciate someone, don’t keep it a secret.”