Don’t Offend People When They Just Recognized You

Watch out for how you react to people when they are thoughtful enough to express praise and recognition to you.

Their words or action are an acknowledgment of your positive actions, effort, or contribution you’ve made.

But too often recognition recipients unintentionally offend givers of recognition.

Watch what you say or do so that you don’t discourage people from giving you recognition again.

Negating The Good

What happens for some of us when we are praised or acknowledged is we become uncomfortable with being singled out and recognized.

We might respond verbally with comments like,

“It was nothing,” or “Think nothing of it.”

“I was just doing my job.”

“No big deal.”

“It was a team effort.”

Or, nonverbally, we might look down to the ground or look away from the person expressing appreciation to us.

As Christopher Littlefield, founder of Acknowledgment Works, discovered in his research, 88 percent of people associate recognition with the feeling of being valued – that’s the good thing. But at the same time, 70 percent of people also feel embarrassed or uncomfortable with being recognized.

This discomfort can influence us to respond in negative ways though most likely this is subconsciously driven.

How Do You Respond to a Gift?

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, from the Harvard Business School, once said, “Compensation is a right. Recognition is a gift.”

Consider when someone praises you or gives you recognition that it is a direct result of how they felt following your positive action and behaviors. Something you did affected them, and positively impacted them in some way. This emotional reaction caused them to express their acknowledgment to you.

This act of recognition is their gift to you. So, consider it as a gift.

When you receive a gift what do you typically say to the person who gave it to you?

“Thank you!” Right?

So, whenever someone recognizes you learn to simply say, “Thank you!”…and then zip the lips!!

No criticism. No negative comebacks. No discounting of whatever it was you did.

Just say, thank you!

And as you get more comfortable at receiving recognition you can begin getting more creative with your recognition responses by adding some relevant details.

  1. Add the person’s name. Yes, you can personalize your recognition response by adding their name after your thank you, i.e. “Thank you, John.”
  2. Add an experiential statement. Where applicable you could state how it felt to accomplish or achieve the task you’re being acknowledged for.
  3. Add acknowledgment of others. Accept the thanks for your contribution and fairly inform the recognition giver if there were others involved in case they didn’t know.
  4. Add some positive nonverbal actions. For example, you can smile. And where culturally appropriate you can look the person in the eyes.

You don’t have to add things all the time. But learn to become comfortable with saying thanks and adding to it whenever you can.

Reflective Question: Do you think you might be unintentionally negating the recognition people give to you?

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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