Can You Give Loving Acknowledgment?

Acknowledging othersIn the work place, we have always expected our boss to acknowledge that he appreciates what we have done. Our children are always asking for our approval. All of us desire to be noticed and applauded for our efforts and accomplishments. Yet, as human beings, we are not very adept at giving or receiving loving acknowledgment.

Acknowledgment is a skill that can be practiced and grown. We have the thoughts (such as, “I should send John a thank you for that extra effort”) and then we don’t act on our good intentions. Or many times we don’t recognize the efforts of others because “we expect rather than accept, so we are always disappointed” in what the other person has done or not done. We put conditions on the outcome and do not reward the attempt to satisfy our desired requests. Our children, our spouses, or employees never feel good enough as their efforts go unnoticed. Acknowledgment is an interesting phenomenon. When you start acknowledging others it gives them permission to acknowledge you. This spreads a more positive attitude of mutual respect, and collaboration is more likely to occur. You have heard the saying “God does not make junk.” In other words, we need to look at people as though they are an awesome creation of God and find those times that they are acting in that powerful, beautiful or awesome way and acknowledge them for it. It will reinforce the behavior that you want to see. Criticism is a negative affirmation that predicts failure and only reinforces the unwanted behavior.

Leo Buscaglia, the author of many books on loving relationships, related this incident:  “Several years ago I was teaching my Love Class; we decided to attempt an assignment. We agreed to approach those people in our lives that we valued and loved and express verbally that we “truly loved and appreciated them.” We found that what appeared on the surface to be a simple, natural thing was rather more difficult than what we had imagined. Most of the students were lovingly tongue-tied. Several never completed the assignment. When we discussed and shared our experiences we agreed that it was strange indeed that so many people found it threatening to communicate love! It then became obvious why we hear the voice of love so seldom and when it is heard, it is spoken softly, so shyly. This is true even though we have learned that unexpressed love is the greatest cause of our sorrow and our regrets. We usually wait until people have died to express their value in our lives, to honor them publicly and to express our love for them.” Buscaglia’s class assignment demonstrates that we must give up our fear of being vulnerable and express our appreciation for each other. It is through acknowledgment that you can bring love into your world. Look for the opportunity to give the gift of a positive affirmation; it will make a difference in all or your relationships.

We must also learn to acknowledge and appreciate ourselves. It is OK to bask in the glory of our creation and give ourselves acknowledgment. We can even ask for what we want. We can ask another to acknowledge us for what it is that we have done or created. We can ask for the recognition that we so earnestly desire. What would be wrong with going up to the boss and asking to be commended for accomplishing a major project? More that likely, he/she has noticed, but, did not say anything. Children have no trouble asking to have their needs met, but as grow up, we fear being vulnerable, stop asking for what we need, and assume that other people know what we need and when we need it. We have a scarcity mentality, thinking there isn’t enough for me, so we live in emotional poverty, not getting our emotional needs met.

When you acknowledge others, guess what happens? People like to be around you. You’ll have more friendly relationships. You will be known as generous. Those who can give acknowledgment and encouragement are growing the self-esteem and self-confidence of others. How we receive acknowledgment is another matter. We have a hard time letting in the good stuff and we discount or diminish the other person’s gift, saying things like: “this old thing,” “it wasn’t much really,” “anybody could have done it.” And what do you think we could say instead? What gives honor to the one who has acted out their kind, loving and generous thought of recognition? How about a simple, no explanation “thank you”.

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