Awkward Acknowledgement

A few weeks ago, I finished a coaching class on acknowledgement. The theme of the class was that we need to be aware of our client’s strengths and acknowledge when they utilize them to show up in a certain way in their personal or professional lives. The interesting development in the class, though, was how awkward it felt to receive acknowledgement or recognition and how wonderful it felt to give it. 

This is how it went. The facilitator requested that I discuss something I was proud of from the previous week and enlisted my classmates to acknowledge my efforts. Immediately, I got sweaty. I was uncomfortable. I put my Zoom mic on mute and just smiled and nodded as my colleagues sang my praises. What should have been an enjoyable experience, was simply awkward. 

So many of us do not handle praise. We feel we are not worthy of recognition, that we do not need it, or that we’re just doing what we’re supposed to do so it’s completely unnecessary. We explain away the acknowledgment or suggest that our success was attributable to others. We’ll do anything we can to push it to the side. 

We are missing the point. Acknowledgement is not about the receiver. It is about the giver. You had an impact on a person. You impressed someone. In turn, they want to recognize you for what you have done and it makes them feel good to do so. They are proud and you should know it. They want you to know it. 

So, how should you reply when you receive recognition and you feel awkward? It’s simple. Say “thank you” and nothing more. Appreciate the recognition and move forward with your conversation. Do not explain it away. Do not attribute your success to anyone else. Anything after “thank you” is meaningless and unnecessary. I’ll hold you accountable and you can do the same for me. 

We got this!