The Secret to Acknowledging

by belinda.

Many of us have been taught, or are learning, to emphasize the importance of describing the impactof behaviour when giving an acknowledgement. The size of the impact being described tends to govern the impact of the acknowledgement itself. In other words, if I tell you something you did changed my life really dramatically – that’s a much more powerful acknowledgement than telling you something you did brightened my day. The bigger the impact you’ve had on me, the bigger the impact of my acknowledgement when I tell you about it.

Yet when we emphasize the effect of someone’s behaviour, it exponentially multiplies the power of the acknowledgement. We don’t think too much about the actual effect of someone’s behaviour, even though we may acknowledge the behaviour.

This is particularly true in organisations. We may say something like: “Congratulations, you hit your customer call-back numbers for the third month in a row. Great work.” The potential multiplier in this acknowledgement is to consider the effect of this achievement. “As a result of your client calls I’ve received five letters from satisfied clients and we’ve had the highest customer satisfaction scores we’ve ever seen in the past quarter.”

The greater the impact described IN the acknowledgment, the greater the impact OF the acknowledgement.


Behaviour Effect =  Impact of Acknowlegement

At home we may something like: “I appreciate you for installing the new streaming service on our TV. It saved us having to get a tech person. Thanks.” Yet what is the effect of this achievement? “As a result of you installing the new streaming service on the TV we can spend the money saved on the upgraded sports package which we all love. Thanks.”

What about acknowledging ourselves? Instead of simply saying “Good on me for focusing on self-compassion. I feel relieved.” I can exponentially multiply the effect of this behaviour by saying “When I focus on self-compassion I feel less stressed and more relaxed, as evidenced by my slowed breathing and lesser muscle tension. Phew!”

With thanks to Brent Stewart at Leadscape Learning for sharing this simple, yet powerful way to deliver feedback. See Feedback Conversations for more.