How To Overcome Your Fear of Giving Recognition

If you’ve rarely received positive feedback or expressions of affection from your family growing up, then you may have a hard time giving recognition in the workplace.

Or perhaps you were not the most stellar athlete at school and did not have top academic marks warranting any special awards.

When you haven’t received much recognition as a child, youth or young adult, you can easily lack confidence in acknowledging and praising those you work with.

That’s when giving people recognition ends up as another item on the “To Do” list that never gets done.

You can almost fear giving people recognition.

Today I will give you some pointers on how you can gain confidence to overcome your fears. I will show you how to give meaningful praise and recognition.

Do The Thing You Fear

Eleanor Roosevelt wrote, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

And for some of us we don’t even know how to give recognition well. No one has ever shown us how and so we don’t do it. For these, and many other reasons, you may feel giving recognition is hard to do.

You need to give recognition even if you feel you cannot do it. But first let me help you with how to do recognition the right way.

Principles of Effective Recognition

There are many principles for giving meaningful recognition.

A principle is an accepted truth or way of doing things. The following recognition principles will help guide your future actions. Keep them top of mind. Copy them out and post them so you can refer to them often.

  • Recognition is about people and should not be about the things you feel you have to give them.
  • Recognition must first be built upon and then foster positive relationships.
  • Recognition should include as many people as possible in the experience if acceptable to the recipient.
  • Recognition comes foremost from having meaningful work to do so they have intrinsic recognition.
  • Recognition of a person allows them to know what they are doing matters and their contributions are valued.

Applying any of these principles in this list ultimately will help you improve giving recognition.

Here are some further principles to help you with giving more authentic recognition.

  • Recognition should always respect an individual’s differences even if they are very different from their peers.
  • Recognition requires you to find out what your people love so you can appreciate them better and in the way they would like to receive recognition.
  • Recognition needs you to take the time to plan how you will give recognition the best way.
  • Recognition is a felt phenomenon so it is always an individual experience.
  • Recognition is about stopping now and then to celebrate the small achievements as well as the major wins.

Putting Principles Into Practice

Now that you know some principles of effective recognition, let’s look at practices you can put into action.

There are some universal practices that help with giving authentic recognition.

How can you face your challenges with giving recognition head on?

Select one of the possible recognition practices below and try it out today or some time this week. Record your personal observation in an online or written journal or notebook.

All of these are recognition steps to practice.

Personalize your recognition. Personalizing recognition to the individual by using their preferred name and respecting their wishes on how they like to be recognized.

Be very specific. Being specific about what the individual has done that they are being recognized for so they know you’ve noticed their work.

Identifying the impact made. Tell the person specifically how their actions impacted other people or elevated performance results so they can see the contribution they’ve made.

Give in a timely manner. Strive to give recognition to people as soon after the action as possible to reinforce a timely acknowledgment and make people feel good.

Respect their wishes. Honoring a person’s preferences for private or public given recognition is always very important to find out about and then act on.

There Is No Fear with Preparation

To boost your confidence with giving recognition you can strive to become better prepared.

Preparation is always key to overcoming any fear.

Try out these recognition preparation tips:

  • Start each day by expressing gratitude to someone before you send a single email out or attend a meeting.
  • Learn to catch people doing things right by getting out to “play catch”. Get out of your work area and see what your people are doing.
  • You can’t know everything about a person. So ask employees in a one-on-one meeting how they would personally like to be recognized.
  • If it will help you be more confident then write down what you want to say to people as a guide for expressing recognition the right way.
  • End each workday by writing a note of thanks to someone who deserves it or leaving a voice mail message expressing your appreciation to a staff member.

Begin today to think about what you can do from this list or whatever comes to your mind, to prepare yourself to give better recognition.

Make it a habit to prepare to give recognition and you will find it becomes easier and easier to do.

Learning any new skill takes a little bit of time and practice to develop proficiency.

Be careful not to doubt yourself too much or pass negative judgment on your abilities.

Employees will be far more forgiving of a manager’s awkwardly expressed recognition than receiving no recognition at all!

Question: How have you gained greater confidence in giving recognition to people?

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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