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Acknowledgment – it’s a superpower

People want to be seen for who they are and what they are doing.

One of the five superpower skills we teach to help folks be good humans and do good work is Acknowledgment. An acknowledgment is when you appreciate a person for who they are being – a quality about them that is compelling. It means recognizing who the person is being (“You are captivating when you speak from your heart”).  It is not what they are doing or a compliment (“You are a really good public speaker”).  Acknowledgements are one way to help a person feel validated for who they are being and the impact they create. Your acknowledgement might be the first time they have received this kind of insight about themselves. HumanityWorks when you help others feel seen for who they truly are.

Here are three things to know about the skill of Acknowledgement:

1. It’s feedback.  You often think of feedback as just the hard or negative stuff, but it’s not. Feedback can be positive too – in fact you might want to start there.  According to Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, in their HBR article The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism-Ratio: “The average ratio for the highest-performing teams was 5.6 (that is, nearly six positive comments for every negative one).” Practice acknowledgements in this 6:1 ratio and see what happens.

2. It’s a gift. People are very often blind to the things they do well. They have been so conditioned to focus on what they don’t do well. Do not assume a person is conscious of their compelling behaviors. A good rule of thumb for acknowledgments is if you are thinking the thought inside your head, say it out loud. Tell them – and witness the affect you create. They will appreciate hearing it.

3. It’s free. Most folks want to feel like they are having an impact and making a valuable contribution.  The skill of acknowledgement does just that! It doesn’t cost anything except the time it takes for you to notice and tell them about how who are they being is making a difference.

So – go for it, especially during this season of gratitude and being thankful. Watch the impact you create as you share acknowledgments with your people. We think you’ll be surprised by the changes. It really is a superpower!