Are Fears Getting In the Way of You Giving Recognition?

Is it possible that those struggling with giving people recognition in your company or organization actually are afraid to do so? Do they have perceived fears that are stopping them from recognizing others?

These days we hear the acronym “FOMO” or the “fear of missing out” which is the anxiety of missing out on rewarding experiences that others might be having. This is typically associated with social media and the need to be continually connected online so the individual can stay connected with what other people are doing.

I would classify the many fears associated with not giving recognition as “FOGR”, or the “fear of giving recognition”.

Latter-day Saints have a scriptural reference that states “…but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.”(Doctrine and Covenants 38:30)

And so I bring to the forefront the typical fears people associate with giving recognition and provide you with ways you can prepare for dealing with them and helping others cope better.

Typical Fears of Giving Recognition

 I am just going to highlight five fears of giving recognition that people have shared with me over the last decade or more. You can read of a few more here.

  1. Fear of Rejection. What if you say the wrong things to someone? Maybe an expression of appreciation isn’t received well? No matter. None of the regular things you say on a daily basis are ever perfect, soliloquys. Recognition is about others – so give it anyway you can.  Note that no one ever stops you from recognizing them.
  2. Fear of Incompetence. Too many people tell me that they don’t know how to give recognition to people, whether verbally or with the written word. The key is to realize recognition is about relationships and that it comes from the heart. Push this fear out of the way and sing people’s praises out loud.
  3. Fear of Perfectionism. Not one single employee has ever told me how perfect the recent acknowledgement they received was. The only condemnation heard, is when nothing is said at all. Nada. There is no “one way” to give praise or express appreciation. The most perfect thing to actually do is to give freely.
  4. Fear of Others. But what will others think if I recognize one person and not the others? Honestly, I’ve heard this way too many times. Don’t ever let “others” both in reality or in your head, determine what you should say or do in any area of your life. Give recognition to one and all and have fun doing so.
  5. Fear of Weakness. Talking about emotional, warm and fuzzy things, like recognition, can be seen by some as a sign of weakness. The irony is, individuals who have mastered the art and practice of giving positive recognition the right way, are always viewed more positively by other people.

 Preparing for Fears of Giving Recognition

I watched Tim Ferris at his recent TED Talk in BC, Canada online where he spoke on “Why you should define your fears instead of your goals”.

He even discussed the idea of “fear-setting” like you would goal setting.

Tim addressed how he dealt with limiting fears holding him back in managing his life with mental health needs.

The principles he shared can help all of us in dealing with any fears such as giving recognition.

Drawing upon stoic philosophy he taught people how to focus on what you can control versus what you can’t control. This helps decrease any emotional response to perceived fears.

By visualizing your fears ahead of time you can prepare yourself for them and stop being paralyzed from giving recognition.

Let’s take a look at Ferris’ insights.

Steps To Overcoming Recognition Fears

Ferris’ one idea is to get a sheet of paper or perhaps a Word document on your computer.

On the paper he suggests setting up three columns under the heading “What if I…” with the written headings, “Define”, “Prevent” and “Repair”. Vertically you could list 1 to 10 for each column for each of your fears. Hopefully you, or the people you’re helping, don’t have more than 10 fears!!

The Define column is where you would actually list your fears of giving recognition, for example. You might write down “What if I…” have a “Fear of Rejection.” You might expand upon this reference and add, “What if I say the wrong things to someone? What if an expression of appreciation I give isn’t received well?” These are your fears.

Prevent, is where in advance of any act of giving recognition you would think through and identify what prevention or preparation techniques or ideas you could use to squash each of the fears you identified.

For Fear of Rejection you might prevent your fear by practicing a simple formula for giving more consistently well-received recognition. Use the Two Part Specificity Rule™ where you specifically express the positive action observed with words of acknowledgement. And secondly you specifically share the impact the person’s actions made on you or on others.

And for Repair, if you accidentally slipped into your fear and were unable to prevent it manifesting itself, what could be some options available to you in advance for repairing such behaviors?

Ideas for repairing your worst scenario when it happens for Fear of Rejection might include learning some comeback phrases, like “I may not have said things quite the best way but I just wanted to recognize you for what you did.”

Then you would repeat the same process for each of the identified fears.

Individuals with fears of giving recognition could use this tool as a self-discovery exercise. Or it might a facilitated exercise to do with a group of people to hekp overcome fears that might stop recognition from happening.

Question: What fears have you seen that stop people from giving recognition?

Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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