The Most Profound Form of Recognition

We have previously suggested that recognition is, at the most fundamental level, an acknowledgement of the worth of a human being. But how can we tell if someone really values us? What demonstrates their regard? What are its tangible, outward manifestations?

When asked this question in workshops, participants often say things like “they seek me out,” “they spend time with me,” “they share thoughts and ideas with me,” “they ask my opinions,” “they listen with real interest.”

The behaviors they describe shed light on a fundamental truth of human interaction: that involvement is perhaps the most profound form of recognition one human being can give another.

You can applaud your children’s intelligence or maturity, but if you do not involve them in decisions affecting the family—buying a new house, moving to a new city—that praise rings hollow.

You can tell your wife you love her, but if you never seek her thoughts or opinions, she will not feel valued. Involvement is one of the clearest and most immediate ways to acknowledge the worth of another human being.

Expressing appreciation for efforts and thanking people for the work they do is extremely important. But words alone can only go so far. Sharing information, discussing ideas, or soliciting input demonstrates regard in a way that few other leadership actions can.

Involvement communicates an appreciation for talents and contributions by actions, and not just words alone. It shows that you value people’s capacity to think, not just their capacity to work. And that is a message that can transform a workplace.

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