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Choose Recognition Over Resentment

#leadership Nov 25, 2020

When you withhold your recognition of another person's contribution to the team's success, you are not just treating people unfairly, but you are depriving people of the emotional payoff that comes with success. 

And they resent you for it. 

One example of this was when a colleague of mine was excited about a grant he received to build an outdoor garden to help the "at-risk" youth he served to build emotional resilience and life skills. 

He told me that his principal came to him very excited and wanted to know all about the grant and the plans. 

Then, she went to the Superintendent meeting and took all of the credit, receiving accolades in the newspaper. My buddy, not a word was written about him or the students. 

He told me that he would never trust the principal and thought about shutting the project down. 

The principal's actions not only impacted his behavior, but now the students would suffer. 

Recognition is all about closure. 

When you fail to recognize someone, you are depriving them of closure. 

We as humans, need closure in all interpersonal transactions. This could be from paying our last respects to getting a simple "thank you" when we hold the door for someone. 

When we do not get it, resentment creeps in.

We say, YOU'RE WELCOME, in a loud and sarcastic tone. 

I have seen my son, run across the store to hold the door for someone. Only to be disappointed because he did not get a proper thank you. He is just seven years old and he gets it. 

Recently during a training session I asked the principals in the ZOOM, "How many of you think you need to do a better job of recognizing others for their great work?" 

I ask this question quite often actually. And without fail, over 80% of the participants acknowledge this flaw. 

They typically share, "I don't have time", "I am too busy", "I didn't see them again that day". Some proclaim, "it's their job! Why do I need to recognize them for doing their job? No one ever recognized me." 

You see, this is where I failed. Just focusing on me and my career ladder. 

It's the hallmark of successful people. They become achievers because of their intense focus on themselves. Their career, their performance, their progress towards their needs. 

Here is what I have learned.

Successful people become great leaders when they learn to shift the focus from themselves to others. 

Here is a quick technique I recently learned for improving the area of providing recognition:

  1. Make a list of all of the important groups of people in your life (family, friends, direct reports, students, etc).
  2. Write down the name of each person in that group.
  3. Twice a week, look at this list and ask, did anyone on this list do anything that I should recognize and highlight? 
  4. If the answer is yes, call, email, text, or write a note. If no, do nothing...do not be phony. 

Within 90 days I guarantee you will find your reputation for providing positive recognition will improve dramatically, and you will find that your work/life harmony will feel more aligned. 

To your success,

Dr. Tom

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