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Acknowledgement is a life skill and if you want to create deeper connections in your life, or be a better manager/leader, it’s important to learn how to do it.
Like many I thought I knew how to do it. “You look nice today,” or “ Great presentation, I really enjoyed it!” When I began my coach training over 10 years ago I learned that I wasn’t acknowledging people, I was complimenting them and the two are really quite different.
The Skill of Acknowledgement
If you want to be a better communicator, and as a result create deeper connections with others in your life, then this is a skill to learn and practice.
Complimenting someone is pointing out what they did and perhaps it includes how what they did affected you. It’s saying something nice, see examples above. And though compliments are great they don’t go to the depth that an acknowledgement does. That’s because with an acknowledgement you are shining a light on who that person was actually “being” when they were doing something.
A way of being refers to what character traits were they displaying when they took a particular action or made a particular decision or choice. For example:
- “Susan that was really brave of you to share your personal story in your presentation. I was really able to relate to you.”
- “I know that going out on your first date after the separation wasn’t easy for you. But you showed real courage to put yourself out there again.”
- “Getting that award today really showed how much dedication and commitment you put into your project. I know at times it was hard for you.”
Why it’s important to practice
Frequently I hear my coaching client’s say they don’t feel heard in their relationships, whether business or personal. Yes, working on your listening skills is an important part of improving your communication. But by practicing and using the skill of acknowledgement we are also having the other person feel heard and seen and that not only improves our communication but creates connection as well.
Acknowledgement is a practice. Although it’s going to feel different to try and see someone on that deeper more intimate level, it’s here that connection occurs. Compliments are lovely but they can tend to stay at surface level. Acknowledgements get to the heart of things.
Start with you
Consider practicing acknowledging yourself first if you are nervous to try it with someone else. Think about something that you recently did or even didn’t do. Who did you have to be to take or not take that action? Were you brave and courageous? Logical or analytical? Were you being a risk taker or being more conscious of your choices?
By starting with ourselves it’s a safe place to practice, and maybe even begin to change that negative self talk, and from there begin to dip a toe into the unfamiliar waters and try it with someone else. Finally watch for their reaction, how did it land for them when you shared it? Or even be brave enough to ask them how did that feel for you?
Practicing the skill of acknowledgement is choosing to be conscious about how you show up in relationship to others. (Way of being – conscious) This is one of those steps you will be taking towards being not only a better communicator but towards creating more connections on your life.