One of the most useful skills that anyone can learn in life is how to acknowledge others. If you want to build the beginnings of a sound relationship with someone, learn to put that person at ease. This can most quickly be done by practicing the art of acknowledgement. It was not until I became a professional coach and learned the skills of coaching that I came to understand the power of acknowledgement and the impact it has on our relationships with others. I also learned the true difference between a compliment and an acknowledgement.
A compliment is something said to express praise or approval. It could be an admiring comment or a kind word. We all like compliments. They make us feel good! However, I’ve noticed that the power of a compliment is short lived, sort of forgotten in a few minutes. That’s because when we give a compliment, we really aren’t speaking to what the person has contributed.
Acknowledgement is about honoring someone by recognizing their contribution, something they’ve done that has made a significant difference. In order to acknowledge someone, it requires that you actively look for the traits and qualities you find admirable in them and then voice it back to them. It can sound like this.
Compliment: “You ran a good training yesterday, Mary”
Acknowledgement: “Mary, as I watched you do your training, I saw your ability to listen to the participants needs. I was impressed by your flexibility and the patience you demonstrated with them. That allowed them to speak honestly, which in turns helps them to grow. It’s clear to me how important training is to you!”
“Joe….Congratulations for achieving your project goal. I appreciate the dedication and the drive you demonstrated throughout this project. You led your team with focus and I so appreciate that.”
Acknowledgement is an opportunity to be authentic and genuine. It’s done in such a way that the person you’re speaking to sees it in your eyes and hears it in the tone of your voice. It could never be mistaken as simple courtesy or an off-hand compliment. When you focus on how you can contribute to others, they will sense this and will begin to trust you.
When we’re more interested in looking for positive qualities in people rather than looking for problems to be fixed, it creates a significant shift in the interpersonal dynamic and establishes an environment of trust and mutual respect. Today, actively look for an opportunity to acknowledge someone. Notice what you experience as you are sharing the acknowledgment. Notice what the person you are acknowledging is experiencing. Are they more relaxed, less stressed, and appreciative? If so, practice this skill set again and again.