Distinction month continues…
There is a distinction, a difference, between complimenting someone, and acknowledging someone.
Complimenting someone is saying something nice to, or about, them. It is a polite expression of praise or admiration. It often is also in rather vague or even impersonal terms, and often focused on the giver rather than the recipient.
Acknowledgement is far more personal. It expresses definite gratitude and appreciation, and, above all else, it explicitly demonstrates that you noticed and are present to the person you are acknowledging.
The best way to learn this distinction? Be acknowledged. The feeling we get when we are acknowledged is worlds apart from the typical compliment. Inside of acknowledgement we know we are seen, valued, related. Compliments roll off our backs in the next moment. Acknowledgement sticks.
As a very simple example:
“That was a great job, thank you,” is a compliment.
“Thank you for producing such an excellent report. I know it was something new for you, and I acknowledge you for being willing to take up the challenge and learn quickly. Thank you for your dedication and for putting in extra to complete this,” is an acknowledgement.
Even in such a simple example, there is acknowledgement of the work, the person’s spirit, their courage, and their potential sacrifice. There’s nothing rote about it, nothing insincere, nothing detached or depersonalized. It’s personal and affirming.
Want to get good at acknowledging? Ask people what they want to be acknowledged for. And then acknowledge them for it. It may sound a bit odd, but I guarantee you that, given a chance, people have no problem knowing what they’d like to be acknowledged for and even though they just told you it still is amazing for them when you do so. And vice versa.
As always, there’s nothing wrong with compliments per se. Acknowledgement is simply more powerful. It is more involved (as it requires being present) and so it is why when we intend to acknowledge we often instead blat out a compliment. But with a bit of practice it becomes not only easy, but powerful for the acknowledger as much as it is for the acknowledged.
Inside of acknowledgement, we are all present to our connectedness, our humanity, and to who we are.
* This all also dovetails nicely within the concept of Presence not Praise