What Do You Do When You’ve Been Recognized?

Take note for a week of the various ways people react after you or others give them recognition, whether in private or in public. It might surprise you the images you capture and the verbal responses you hear.

You might express the recognition face-to-face, remotely through video conferencing applications; in a written email, ecard or paper card; or through text based, audio- or video-messaged greeting on your organization’s recognition programs.  

But how does the recipient respond? 

Many people are uncomfortable being recognized. When you’ve been recognized what do you do? How accepting are you of the recognition? 

Simplest Recognition Comment 

The best advice I have always given to people at workshops on responding to someone who has just given you praise or recognition, is to say, “thank you!”

In fact, just zip the lips right after saying thank you and say nothing else after that might negate the compliment you have just received.  

Chris Littlefield, a colleague of mine, and founder of Beyond Thank You, suggests treating every recognition or compliment as a gift. What’s your typical response after receiving a gift? You politely say thank you, of course! So, do the same after someone has recognized you, because it is a gift. 

Prepare Positive Responses 

As you record the feedback people typically give after others have recognized them, you will probably see comments like, “Oh, it was nothing,” or “Don’t mention it,” or the classic, “I was just doing my job.”  

If it was really nothing, then the person recognizing you is lying and must be falsely flattering you. 

When someone says not to mention the recognition, it is almost insulting to the recognizer and a negative reinforcer to not recognize you again.

And the famous, I was just doing my job, shows a low regard for the splendid work you must do if someone thought you merited recognition. 

Instead, prepare some amazing comebacks for whenever people recognize you and encourage your employees to do the same thing. 

Think about lines like: 

“I really worked hard on that project and put my best ideas forward.” 

“Thank you for noticing. I appreciate your positive feedback.”

“You can sometimes think you are just going about your job. Your recognition makes me realize I am doing a lot more. Thank you.”

Principles for Receiving Recognition 

It is good to follow some recognition principles to guide us because some of us can have such a hard time in accepting recognition. The following five principles should help you out if you get stuck. 

1.    Take a deep breath and mentally accept it. Learn to receive all recognition positively. Battle out of your mind any negative thoughts that would discount a person’s recognition of your actions. Breathe, pause, and accept the recognition.

2.    Always thank a person recognizing you. It takes a lot of courage to come forward and recognize someone for their contributions. No matter what you think of the recognition, thank the giver right away.

3.    Reflect on the behaviors being recognized. Take a moment to think about what the other person is recognizing. Accept the value they have placed on your work and who you are.

4.    Acknowledge what the other person sees. Say something that agrees with and supports the expression of recognition from the individual, even if you find it hard to do. Tell them you are grateful for their words that are causing you to see things better.

5.    Tell them what you appreciate about their recognition. To recognize something is to re-cognate or to rethink the value and importance of some important or positive action and then say or do something about it. As you receive recognition, tell the other person expressing recognition of what their words have caused you to think differently about their actions and work. 

Recognition Reflection: How good are you at receiving recognition from others?

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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