Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Let the "Recognition Cup" Runneth Over

Before The Lull, when I was advising managers on how to improve their (inappropriately named) "soft skills," one of the "must-dos" that couldn't be repeated often enough was Give recognition whenever you can.

This came to mind last week when a dear friend gave me an unsolicited and unexpected compliment. It was meaningful first because I believe she was being genuine. But second because I realized how long my Recognition Well had been dry.

Most of us crave recognition, whether we own up to it or not. We crave it at work, in our social circles, from our families. Not the 15-minutes-of-fame variety, either. We want the genuine article, sans shiny adjectives and dramatic adverbs. And I suspect I'm in good company when I say I received precious little recognition in the workplace. 

It's wearing. Without recognition, our perspective starts to shift; our self-esteem erodes.

I noticed a video on The Kindness Center Web site called Validation (scroll down the screen to see it). I haven't watched all of it yet, but the premise is spot on: A downtrodden fellow goes to pay for his parking and instead gets told how much he matters. Word spreads and pretty soon, folks are parking at the lot not to go shopping but to get "validated."

Corny? Maybe. But it points out two truths:
1. Validation/Recognition is necessary to well-being.
2. We need to give as good as (or, in this case, better than) we get. That is, how much recognition do you offer to others?

Make recognition a two-way exercise today. Whether you're giving or getting, I guarantee it will make you feel better.

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