Upgrade Compliments to Acknowledgements


#Leadership #Management #Performance

The movie Avatar (2009) was about acknowledgement on a far away planet peopled by very large blue humanoids living a simple mutually connected life, connected to their planet, plants, animals and to each other. An important aspect of this way of living is that they ‘see’ each other in a holistic way, deeply, authentically and with great respect. It is a statement of acknowledgement to say to another, ‘I see you’. When one ‘sees’ another they accept them for what they are. Seeing in this way is not about recognition of who you are, which is a name, maybe a title and address and probably a tax number, but the essence of what you are, what you are being.

When I compliment I say, ‘nice shirt’ and you say thanks. This interaction is about the shirt, not you. It is polite and probably well intentioned but  not an indication of truly seeing the person. I could say it without even establishing eye contact.

When I acknowledge, I say, ‘you have such a way with style. I love that shirt. It is so you’. The recipient now has more understanding/insight about themselves, about what they ‘be’ not what they ‘do’. What you do is an expression of what you be (what you are, your essential self). Being ‘seen’ by me invites much deeper connection with your core self. Acknowledgement celebrates what you are.

In this example we recognize the person’s ‘way with style’. Does that go away or is it likely that they have that ‘way with style’ all of the time and that what we notice is expressions of that way of being? Notice and acknowledge that this person also brings to your group, because of their way with style.

Think of someone you know that seems to have the seed of adventure and curiosity in them. That is a part of them that defines them, makes them ‘what’ they are. Notice that this is a part of their essence and though it may seem stronger or weaker day to day, it seems to always be there at some level. And it is wonderful to experience.

There is an indelible good within every being. That indelible good can be acknowledged at any time, independent of what the person is doing. We see this overarching good in almost everyone if we take the time to look. We don’t need to hear the ‘b’ in subtle to know it is there. Sense.

May I acknowledge you?

You have this quiet and powerful way of contributing to our group. Though you do not say much, when you do speak, the group pauses to welcome what you have to say. You are so careful to respect the others and to only share what can be helpful. I really appreciate how you show up in the world. Thanks for being you.

What can you acknowledge about yourself?

Keep it genuine, what you truly sense is them. No need to be overly sticky about using the exact right words. If you are real they will get it. If you are not real, they will get that too.


Joseph Seiler MCC