There Is Nothing More Important...

Steven Gaffney ...Than Remembering To Acknowledge and Appreciate People

There is nothing more important than remembering to acknowledge and appreciate people. It is the greatest gift that you can give someone.

My grandfather, Giulio Oreffice, lived in a nursing home during the last several years of his life before passing away at 99 3/4 years and one day old. During one of my visits to see him, a nurse pulled me aside and told me what a "great man" my grandfather was. Appreciative, I asked her why she thought so. She responded, "He is the only person here who always says 'Thank you."'

Wow, just two words in the English language! That does not seem like a lot, but it means so much, and to this nurse it meant everything.

My grandfather always acknowledged people. He acknowledged small things. During my last visit with him, he thanked the nurse for helping him with his hearing aid. He acknowledged large things, such as referring to his daughter, my mother, as an angel for visiting him daily and making him feel loved and inspired to face the challenge of another day.

We do not have to throw a party or organize an awards ceremony, although it never hurts. We just need to acknowledge and appreciate people.

Why is acknowledgement so important? I believe that the number one driving force of human beings is our desire to make a difference. We want to see that our lives count and we need to feel like we matter to someone, that we are noticed and important. To acknowledge someone is to say, "I see you. You are significant. I admire you." Who doesn't need to hear these things?

Many of us work extra hours, often for no additional money or benefit. Why? We just want to make a difference in our jobs or help someone out. That is why many of us have a hard time saying "no." In fact, by conducting career development seminars, I have learned that one of the biggest fears that people seem to have in common is dying without making a difference. Those of you who are parents know exactly what I am talking about. Parents worry: Are we really helping our children to become the kinds of people that they have the potential to be? Are we equipping them for the future? Are we making a difference?

Some people ask me, "Is it possible to over-acknowledge people?" Perhaps, but the issue is more likely to be the quality of the appreciation-whether our sincerity is in the acknowledgement-not whether there is too much of it. In fact, I have never heard of someone leaving an organization because he or she was acknowledged too much. I have never heard of anyone ending a marriage because there was just too much love and appreciation. I have never heard of a child growing up dysfunctional because the child was acknowledged too much. But, of course, we have all heard of people leaving organizations, ending marriages and remaining upset about their childhoods because they were not acknowledged enough.

The Key to Acknowledgement
When it comes to acknowledgement, I try to remember the "ISOS" acronym

I  Immediate. Even if it is over the phone or e-mail, express it now. (You can always do something really special for them later).
S  Specific. What specifically are you acknowledging?
O  Often. We already have determined that you cannot harm someone by over-appreciating them.
S  Sincere. Say it only if you mean it.

The Best Tip
If you want to do something really special and memorable for someone, buy a card and write down the lessons you have learned from having him or her in your life, and then give it to that person.

Give the greatest gift that you can give someone: Give the gift of acknowledgement and tell someone what a difference he or she has made in your life. Then watch the difference you make in that person's life, just by acknowledging them.

This "Steven Gaffney's Bi-Monthly E-mail Advice" may be reproduced with either permission from Steven Gaffney or reproduced in its entirety with the following byline:

"Steven Gaffney is an professional speaker and author in the area of communication, motivation and leadership. He can be reached at (703) 243-7994 or 1-877-6Honest or e-mail Steven directly at"

Copyright 2003 by Steven Gaffney and the Steven Gaffney Company."

Category: Communicating
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