One of my best friends recently said, “I know I’m being judgmental, but I think you’re fantastic!” It’s funny how we associate judgment with negativity. My friend and I had a good laugh at that, and it put me in mind of the importance of acknowledgment. Clients often tell me that compliments feel phony or awkward. What they don’t see is how powerful acknowledgment can be to their colleagues. Taking the time to mention the good job someone did, or a consistent quality they have can make them feel wonderful, build trust and allow for much better communication. Focusing on someone else, instead of yourself, is like a small gift. Here are some guidelines:
- Be as specific as you can. “Great presentation!” is nice, but consider, “Wow, you really researched for that presentation. I could see how the facts you had in your pocket tipped the balance when the team questioned the recommendation,” or “Boy, you are so good at building relationships. Because you got all the key people to the meeting, we were able to make a quick and easy decision.”
- Be timely. A comment on a good presentation is best right when it happens, not several weeks later. A tip though…you can always say, “You know, I never got to tell you that…”
- Tailor it to your audience. In the examples in the first bullet, you may have noticed that one is based on facts, the other on relationships. Knowing what is important to someone can really make an acknowledgement come alive.
- Stay with it. It is not uncommon for people to brush off a compliment, “Oh, that? It’s nothing…” If the person does it, just listen, and say it again, “Well, it may not seem like much to you, but I really think the way you always have your facts straight is great. It makes a huge difference to the team.”
Thanksgiving brings so many opportunities. Well-baked pies, efforts made to travel long distances, and accomplishments everyone has made since you last saw each other. Enjoy it, and see what happens.