How To Overcome Your Reluctance To Give People Recognition

Reluctance in giving people the recognition they deserve comes from a fear of being rejected, and lack of preparation with recognizing people, and not having the proper mindset or the skills to give recognition. Resistance is normal and to be expected. 

If you have reluctance to recognize well deserving peers and staff, you might procrastinate and put off sending an ecard or calling them up to praise them. You might repeatedly over-prepare, such that what you should say or what you should write to express recognition doesn’t happen, and you put it off.

You may second guess yourself and anticipate how you think the recipient will react and respond to the recognition you give them. 

If you continue to ignore your reluctance to recognize those around you, and those who report to you, you could see employee performance bottom out and potentially see staff leave to go work where they will feel better appreciated. 

Overcoming Reluctance to Giving Recognition 

Let’s explore some ideas for overcoming your personal reluctance in giving recognition to those you work with that deserve to be acknowledged. 

  1. See the resistance to giving recognition for what it is.

Any unfamiliar or inexperienced skill set will generate resistance. In its pure and raw form, this resistance is fear. 

Your first step is to move from fear to competency and the ability to trust yourself and have confidence to give amazing recognition. 

The key after setting the expectation to recognize people is to provide the education and resources to learn how to give Real Recognition™ the right way wherever you work. Then you can provide leaders with feedback on how they are doing and solicit their perception from staff on their practices. Give positive reinforcement to people who exemplify recognition giving and give natural consequences when individuals are not recognizing as they should.

2. Identify the causes of your recognition resistance. 

Some people never heard words of praise, or even expressions of love, at home from their family. Others never excelled in the arts, sports, or even academically at school or in their communities, to merit recognition growing up. To be recognized was such a rare experience that it is foreign to them. This could be why they have no clue how to recognize people. 

Figuring out why you have a hard time giving recognition will at least partially help explain your resistance to recognition. From this awareness, you can process the reasons and move on from this and change the reluctance stemming from the past.

3. Recognition is never about you and always about other people. 

Do your very best to forget about yourself and any awkwardness you might have about recognizing people. Instead, focus on what your recognition might mean to the other person. Remember that recognition is a gift and a total surprise to people. Something unexpected but super special to the recipient.  

How might it change their life? Will they work with more pride in their actions? They just might stay with the organization much longer because of the words you say to them. 

4. Your purpose is to lead and serve your employees and peers. 

Giving recognition to people is one of the finer qualities of real leadership. You see the potential in others, and you help them grow and develop by valuing people and the contributions they make on the job. 

While they universally valued recognition from everyone, no matter the position of the person recognizing, there is still the perception that recognition from top is more valued. Show genuine care and concern for the people who report to you and whom you work with.

5. Learn how to give meaningful and effective recognition.

Knowing how to give meaningful and effective recognition to people is both an art and a science. Read the latest books available to you on how to give Real Recognition™ to people the right way.

Find out what learning programs or online courses are available to you from learning and development on recognition skills, motivation, giving feedback, and understanding rewards. Sometimes, you just have to recommend what to view and what courses they should plan in to do.

If nothing exists internally, look outside of your organization and gain approval to purchase and take remote or online courses from outside.

6. Develop a thorough knowledge of your online recognition programs.

Maybe your reluctance with recognition giving is dealing with facing people directly and recognizing them. Then a great solution to interpersonal interaction is to go online and use your organization’s available recognition programs.

Find out about the different programs available to you. Some companies invest in social recognition programs where you can send ecards for different occasions. You can also make positive feedback comments to commend and praise people for their splendid work on the recognition newsfeed.

Other programs also allow a reward component so you can add to your recognition by rewarding people when they go above and beyond with some form of monetary reward. Perhaps you can nominate someone for a reward they deserve.

7. Identify the positive behaviors and results people achieve.

Be a people watcher and good finder and discover the wonderful positive things your staff are doing. Find out from your direct reports the amazing things their colleagues are doing and use your online programs to express recognition to them. Whenever people achieve significant performance milestones, complete a project, or go above and beyond, they may well deserve to receive a reward.  

I always like to say that you recognize positive behaviors, and you reward outstanding results. To do either of these actions means interacting with your employees regularly to know the amazing things they are doing.

8. Remove all physical and digital distractions when recognizing people.

If you are giving recognition in person or face-to-face, even virtually, then place your office phone on “Do Not Disturb”, put your mobile phone on silent mode, and turn off your email notifications from dinging away. 

Make eye contact as you are comfortable doing so and give your full attention to the person you’re recognizing. Work hard at giving authentic, meaningful, and memorable recognition to people. Give recognition on purpose and with the right intention.

9. Discuss recognition ideas and any challenges you have with others. 

Be open about your reluctance and resistance to recognizing people. Seek support from your peers and get some great recognition ideas from them. Discuss the challenges you have and ask colleagues what reluctance they have to overcome. This way you can feel more comfortable knowing that others also feel awkward with recognizing others, too.

10. Seek periodic feedback from employees on how you could improve.

In your regular one-on-one meetings with people, stop to ask them once in a while how well they feel recognized and appreciated for the work and contributions they make on the job. Ask them candidly if there are actions you should stop doing. What recognition practices do they appreciate the most from you? If there was one thing that they could recommend for you to improve your recognition, what would it be?

11. When all else fails, get professional coaching to overcome your reluctance.

There is no shame in seeking help from others to improve in a particular knowledge or skill set. An exemplary recognition practitioner could mentor you. If you are really struggling with recognition reluctance, request someone assist you by coaching you on the skills and behaviors you need to practice recognition giving.

There are even online coaching specialists who can help you set goals and hold you accountable on specific recognition behaviors you want to master.

Overcoming any resistance or reluctance to giving recognition never comes easy. But it gets easier to give recognition when you make a personal commitment to get better doing it right.

Recognition Reflection: How does your organization help those who resist giving recognition or are reluctant to recognize 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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