I have been writing about the 8 values that build trust: honesty, straightforwardness, receptivity, disclosure, respect, follow through on commitments, seeking excellence and recognition, the topic for today. First of all, what is it?

Recognition is verbal appreciation and compliments. It is expressions of gratitude for contributens. And, it is also the experience of ‘I get you’ and ‘I see you,’ which was powerfully demonstrated in the movie, The Avatar. The recipient feels you get what is important to them and what they most value.’ They also sense your gift of, ‘I feel you’ which indicates that not only your head, but also your heart is engaged. Trust grows because the other person senses you will not violate or neglect them and what matters most to them.

The vast majority of people deeply long to feel powerfully connected, lovable, know they have valuable contributions and are influential. Recognition creates all these feelings and its absence weakens them. The compelling reason to give recognition is it encourages creativity, joy, intelligence and care within others in our ever-growing technological society where a sense of disconnection is more and more common. Recognition builds trust because you feel another cares and is watching out for you.

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
Fred Rogers

We all want to be seen and heard. Without realizing it, we have been conditioned with barriers, some old and some new. Common old barriers are perfectionism, cynicism, and judgment about the desire for recognition as selfish and egotistical. New barriers include the speed of change, the use of emails, texting and recorded messages to communicate, and mechanized procedures, which all serve to create separation. Collectively, this and more keep us from being a village of people who connect, care, enjoy and support one another. Instead, we live more in our minds than ever before. That’s why so often, recognition is considered optional. The truth is, we need encouragement in the form of recognition like a plant needs water!

I am often surprised at how uncomfortable we are giving and receiving recognition. I remember when I first started speaking publically; I had to condition myself to relax, breathe and open my heart and body to accept the recognition of applause and smiles from the audience. I notice the same when receiving compliments. It is not uncommon for many people to close down, dismiss compliments and change the subject. Recognition involves an open-hearted, vulnerable and intensely connecting experience that requires high trust.

Here’s a story I often relate about recognition. I met a man once who was the guest presenter in an event, who met and shook the hands of over 50 people. Then he went up to the front of the room and began to speak. He was able to say every person’s name within the next 30 minutes as he presented information and interacted with the audience. I’d never seen anything like it and everyone liked and trusted this man very quickly. During a break, I went up to him to ask him how he did this. I said, “Do you use some type of memory trick?” He said, “No. When I come to an event, I pause in my car before coming in, and I ask myself, ‘for what am I afraid of being judged?’

Once he does this, he consciously lets down his guard. Then when he meets someone, he’s open and receptive to him or her fully, body, heart and mind. He said the reason most of us can’t remember a person’s name even though we just shook their hand and heard it seconds before, is that we are in protection mode. We don’t trust them, so we are not able to really see or hear ‘them’ and therefore we can’t recognize them fully. He modeled the ultimate in recognition and trust building with over 50 people.

Recognition can only be given when you are able to receive it and experience the truth of who you are, not your fearful and false idea of yourself. We can’t give away what we don’t have. We can’t see and acknowledge good in others without awareness of our own. So… to create a life you love in which you are able to recognize your potential and that of others, please call me!

As published nationally in Women’s Journals, August 2012