by Roy Saunderson | April 06, 2015
The things we say to people can change a person's life forever. By giving recognition the right way, we will impact every person and their performance at work, home, and at play. The quoted words of reflection below, from both living and past individuals, have inspired some thoughts for helping each of us improve at expressing genuine recognition and appreciation.
1. Observe others around you. Giving recognition is multi-directional in origin. Look out for things the people you report to do as well as those you serve to discover actions to be acknowledged. "Be always on the lookout for experiences you can learn from." - Col. Chris Hadfield, Astronaut (Retired).
2. Invest in books and courses. There are so many wonderful books, online courses, and webinars available on all aspects of motivation, feedback, communication for knowledge and skills we need to do better in. "Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom." - Oprah Winfrey
3. Put your heart into giving recognition. Remember, recognition is a felt phenomenon about relationships and being authentic with what you say and do. "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou
4. Your words of recognition may be the last ones heard. Take a more serious approach towards expressing appreciation to people. Sometimes we make recognition giving far too casual. "Why didn't I learn to treat everything like it was the last time." - Jonathan Safran Foer 
5. Learn from more experienced people. Seek out mentors or those who are known to be great recognizers. Ask what they personally do and say each day that has them perceived as effective recognition givers. "The only thing better than being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are." - C.S. Lewis
6. Have the courage to give recognition every day. Give yourself the personal challenge to give recognition every day without having a quota mindset. "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." - Nelson Mandela
7. Personalize the recognition you give. Connecting with people requires one-on-one conversations and learning their likes and dislikes. "It's all about the degree to which you can make it personal. I made time to write 10 notes a day to connect with people." - Douglas Connant, Former CEO, Campbell's Soup
8. Gather insights from your peers. I heard this idea the other day in a training session I conducted. One group of managers is going to share with each other any lost opportunities of giving recognition they have and why. "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can never live long enough to make them all yourself." - Groucho Marx 
9. Listen intently to people to fully appreciate them. By learning to listen with your heart and your ears you'll pick up on the emotional connections that will help give authentic appreciation. "Learn to listen when people are talking. First, it's a great art, and second, it's quite possible that when people say one thing they mean another." - Julie Andrews Edwards
10. Reflect in writing on what you've learned. Some of the best learning is done by introspection at the end of the day. Keep a journal or create one online for reflections on how you did with giving recognition. "You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room." - Dr. Seuss

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is author of Giving the Real Recognition Way and is the Chief Learning Officer of Rideau's Recognition Management Institute, a consulting and training company which helps leaders and managers get recognition right. He can be reached at [email protected]. Also, check out the library of Real Recognition Radio shows.