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How to recognize others in kind, classy, and brain-friendly ways

Liz Guthridge Posted by Liz Guthridge, Managing Director, Connect Consulting Group.

Liz Guthridge is a coach, consultant and facilitator who helps leaders turn their blue-sky ideas into greener-pasture actions. She uses applied neuroscience, behavior design and mindful communications. 


How to recognize others in kind, classy, and brain-friendly ways

Decorative sign for sale spotted in the window of Noddy Charleston, gift shop of southern-made goods:

“Honestly,

F*** you.

The new thank-you.

You’re welcome.”

No thank-you. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer to keep things kind, classy, and brain-friendly, especially when appreciating others.

Appreciation is a welcome gesture all year round. When you recognize individuals for their efforts and results, you show that you are aware of their contributions, value them and their actions, and respect them.

Your acknowledgement encourages them to keep up the good work. (The hit of dopamine — the “feel good” neurotransmitter that sends signals to other nerve cells ─ encourages a repeat of the behavior.) And you also feel good, thanks to the hit of dopamine you get as well.

Luckily in my world, an attitude for gratitude is flourishing this spring. And it’s more than a wholesome attitude; it’s a variety of authentic actions.

Just consider these three examples:

  • A client appreciation party. Business and Career Coach Thomas Heath invited his clients to his home on a Saturday night to say “thank you for the privilege to work with you.” He explicitly asked us to bring our significant others (and if needed, line up babysitting ahead of time) and dress in a festive and fun way. As promised, Thomas and his wife Judy served some awesome food and beverages, which when combined with the interesting company, created a special, memorable evening.
  • Social recognition at work. This spring one of my corporate clients is introducing a formal recognition and reward program for employees with Globoforce, which has been helping companies with strategic recognition for more than 15 years. My client has been extensively transforming its organization over the past three-and-a-half years, and doesn’t see an end in sight as continual reinvention has become the “new normal.” This formal program responds to employees’ requests for recognition and appreciation for a job well done, as expressed formally through employee engagement surveys and informally through other venues. Even better, the program with its mobile app and website makes recognition simple, fun, and easy for both the receivers and the givers of recognition.
  • Dedicated day of tribute and tourism for veterans. On April 5, 137 WWII, Korean, and Vietnam veterans now living in Eastern Tennessee will fly to Washington, DC for the day through the HonorAir Knoxville program. My 91-and-a-half-year-old father, a World War II and Korean War Navy veteran, will be on the trip, accompanied by my sister who also lives in Tennessee. My brother and husband, both Army vets, and I will meet up with them in DC. We’ll visit all the war memorials, honoring the sacrifices these veterans have made and thanking them for their service. Besides appreciating them, I’m thankful to HonorAir Knoxville for allowing my brother, husband and me to tag along and be part of what should be an upbeat, memorable experience with my dad, family members and all the other veterans. (I’ve promised my dear husband to be on my best behavior and not pick any fights with my siblings.) Even the anticipation of this pleasurable trip has bolstered my mood.

While we humans crave recognition, we don’t always remember to acknowledge others or take the time. That’s why formal recognition programs like these examples play a valuable role. They encourage us to pause to reflect, recognize, and reward good behavior.

Practicing recognition, especially catching people doing the right things, goes a long way to make your workplace more humane as well as improve your quality of life.

What are you doing to recognize or be recognized in kind, classy, and brain-friendly ways?