I’m eventually back after a month spent in France, working and then taking some time off, visiting family, friends and our beautiful country. And while this time was awesome, I’m really excited to start again my projects where I left them. And this includes my bi-weekly insights. So, let’s start today with a post on acknowledgment.
2 months ago, I attended a coaching intensive in Victoria, BC, Canada and as I was reflecting on my biggest takeaways, I was really present to the beauty and the power of acknowledgment. At the end of the intensive, everyone had to acknowledge someone and got to be acknowledged. And this practice felt really good on both side of the acknowledgment. Acknowledging is a core skill in coaching and I am used to it but it was the first time I witnessed it in a collective way.
Here are a few distinctions to help get the sense of what I mean by acknowledgment:
- A flattery is usually defined as un insincere or excessive praise, with often an interest, expecting something in return.
- A compliment is an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration and is generally a form a politeness.
- An acknowledgment is just the recognition and expression of the existence or truth of something. The coaching version defines acknowledging as the process of bringing out the best of someone by connecting him or her with their own source of energy and power by reminding them of who they are. When acknowledging someone, you let them know the best that you truly see in them. Not to be polite, but to help them see what they can’t see, or what they already know but forgot, to help them see the impact they have on you, to help them see their greatness underneath it all.
Like any other skill, acknowledging can be learned and must be practiced. At first it may feel awkward when we are not used to it. It may sound insincere or like sugar coating, but the more you practice, the more natural, the more profound and the more impactful it becomes.
Here is how it may sound:
- Mathew, I want acknowledge you for all that you are doing but also for who you are being in this process. I want to acknowledge you for the passion and determination you put in what you are creating. I totally get that it matters to you, I know how difficult it is for you and I acknowledge you for the courage you demonstrate by not holding back and playing full out. I acknowledge you for your leadership and your presence, combined with an authentic vulnerability and openness. I am really thankful for the opportunity to partner with you and really excited to see what happens next.
Acknowledging is great both ways:
- When you practice acknowledging, you practice seeing the best in people, their essence, that is often hidden behind protective mechanisms. It helps go beyond your judgment. It doesn’t mean you have to like or agree with the other person. It only means you make room for that part of them too. And in the end, it helps you better deal with potential conflict or difficult situations because you can see their humanity beyond everything else.
- When you receive an acknowledgement, it reinforces some things you may know but tend to forget about yourself, it may help you discover new things about you. You are not aware of your impact in the world and on others, and so it feels really good to raise that awareness by hearing from others what they see in you. It also empowers you, and it is a catalyst for action. Sometimes, it might be hard to receive an acknowledgment (you might be tempted to not believe it, to dismiss it, or you might feel uncomfortable when hearing it) so it is good to practice receiving it, without interfering, commenting, just by listening and letting it sink in.
My invitation for you is therefore:
- to practice acknowledging people: your partner, your friends/family, your colleagues. Don’t’ try to find something nice to say about the other person, don’t try to say the “right” thing, just take the time to check in what you see and feel from that person. You can do it informally, when you feel like it. Or you can set up a structure to do it regularly. If you are a manager, you can, once in a while, end meetings by having everyone acknowledge one person and be acknowledged once. I promise the impact is really powerful, providing the practice is built with trust and authenticity.
- to ask to be acknowledged for, especially when you are in a down period. Ask someone to remind you of your greatness (yes you are great!), of what they see in you.
- And to acknowledge yourself, great practice 😊
So, let’s end with some acknowledgments here: I want to acknowledge myself for sending these emails and sharing my coaching journey every other week, despite the discomfort, despite not knowing who is reading and not knowing what people think about them. I want to acknowledge myself for my commitment to grow and become a master coach rather than just a good enough coach.
And I want to acknowledge you, for taking some minutes of your precious time to read this post, for your willingness to learn, to grow, or maybe just for your curiosity, or for whatever you have in mind that this post may help you with and for being a wonderful human being, because you are !