The Mutual Benefits of Recognition

Recently I was in a theatrical production. It was the first major role for many years. I had reached that stage in my life where I wanted to express that an altered state: a character starts off the play in a relatively comfortable place but wanting change and then, in the calling for it, has change thrust upon him. This is pretty well what happens in Shakespearean tragedies but my play was gentler in so e respects but no less epic. I played Jack Lewis (C S Lewis) in Shadowlands. Certainly, it was the largest part I had undertook starting, as it does, with a five-minute monologue and proceeding to keep me on stage for 2 hours 10 minutes in a play that lasts 2 hours 15 minutes. During this time, I had to cover most major emotions apart from murderous hate.

So why do I mention this? Yes, it was a personal achievement on several levels but I knew I was either going to be covered in glory or drenched in ignominy. Perhaps I came to see it as a special experience and happening that a number of us had contributed to. If so, was that not enough in itself? Have we not all done at least one thing in our lives that we felt required a fulsome acknowledgement, particularly from those we call our friends, let a lone our families? And do we get what we expect from them?

In my case I am fortunate enough to say that, for the most part, yes. I am convinced though that each of us will have done something or put ourselves out and not received recognition for it. Why is this? Whilst I would not dream of suggesting a definitive list I do wonder if it is something to do with how those from whom we expect generous recognition have been treated themselves. Perhaps they were told as children not to be vain or attention-seeking; perhaps they never received recognition or praise themselves and so assuaged their need for it by vilifying the need for such recognition as something shameful and unwholesome. Elements of my own culture have expressed such sentiments and indeed, praise can be an addictive drug, as most young performers have found. But is this a reason to withhold it, as if we are somehow doing the achiever a favour by offering only faint praise, and damning them in the process? I will assert at this point that we do all need a healthy quantity of praise and recognition and if we don’t get it our attitude to achievement in others can be damaged. The very thing we seek ourselves from others is the very thing we find hard to give others. Next time you witness someone incapable of offering due recognition, just dig down a bit and find out how they have been treated during their greatest achievements, particularly when younger.

Why am I bringing up this subject? I have been working with the use of recognition in the international business environment over many years. What started as a simple tool to allow you to put forward a minority view at a meeting has now shown itself to be essential oil in virtually all business dealings, particularly in the early stages. If you cannot give recognition or use it systematically in your business dealings you are at a distinct disadvantage, for two main reasons. Firstly, you will not attract the other person to listen to you in a positive way, and secondly you will not see the concurrence between the values you have witnessed and your own values and hence the opportunity to work more closely together.

This is a big subject and perhaps not one that can be dealt with fully in one blog. It is sufficient that I introduce you to the idea and offer you an opportunity to examine it, practise handling it and get feedback on how much and how effectively you practice it in your dealings with others. We call our recognition tool IRIS and it is an element in our ever-popular, and I might say famous, International Meeting Skills (IMS) seminar. The next one occurs very soon, 25th to 28th November 2019 and is held at the premises of the European Central bank in Frankfurt.

I do intend to write more on the subject in time but for now I would welcome your comments and very much welcome your presence at the forthcoming IMS seminar.

Call me on +44 1376 570982 for more information.