The Importance of Giving Recognition

One of the most important traits in personal development is often overlooked- how to give recognition to someone else. You might ask, why would recognizing someone have anything to do with your own personal growth? Why should you care? What’s in it for you?

The answer lies in the importance of relationships with other people. We cannot be as successful nor happy without help from other people, whether it’s love, friendship, career, financial success, or just meeting our basic day to day needs. Successful relationships are built upon people liking and respecting us. Showing recognition and appreciation is a key, powerful part of that. Mark Twain said it well when he said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment”.

It’s critical to understand why this is true. Most people want to be appreciated; they want to be liked and feel useful. If you give them that, they are likely to like and respect you in return. Does it matter if they are reciprocating? Not really- sure it’s nice if they show appreciation for you in return, however if you can set aside your personal ego, it’s the lesser important side of things.

A pitfall in this is being fake and manipulative. Don’t be that person; you’ve probably seen salespeople try this on you and sensed immediately it’s fake and that they just want something. The way to avoid this is only give recognition where it’s deserved, where you truly believe the person did well. There are usually opportunities we miss to praise someone, because we’re too focused on ourselves, our own ego, and our own inner dialog.

Be sure to match the recognition to the situation and level of accomplishment. For a minor achievement like a well written report, a verbal “great job” may be enough. For something bigger, make the effort to give them something physical, and which others will see. A letter of appreciation is great option, or certificate of accomplishment. For something even more significant, consider award plaques. In the workplace, people take award plaques extremely seriously, placing them on walls and treasuring them through their entire career.

For broader situations, learn how to give praise to others. A fundamental step is using the person’s name and be as specific as possible. Don’t just cite the accomplishment but cite some specific things such as how hard they worked, that they communicated well, they got it done quickly, etc. Where possible, cite a character trait you see in the person that was a contributing factor. People like to be praised on who they are, not only what they did.

Praising and recognizing others can not only help others to like you, but it can motivate them to repeat exemplary behavior. It allows you to reinforce productive, positive behavior, or behavior that aligns with your own goals and interests. It shows others that you really care about other people rather than only yourself. Self-centered people rarely give praise.

This technique works very well in conjunction with Active Listening, which means it’s also easy if you are an introvert that doesn’t like to talk much. All you must do is ask questions about something the other person has done or is doing and throw in positive feedback during the conversation. This lets them know you value what they are talking about and that you’re asking to hear more. While this post is not about Active Listening, it’s an equally important skill in personal development.

My challenge to you is this- look for opportunities in everyday life to recognize and praise people, so you get into the habit of doing it. This can be at work, with a spouse, parent, child, friend, or even just a clerk in a store. Again, you must be sincere, which means keeping an eye out for something that is genuinely noteworthy.