Miscellaneous articles on staff recognition

Why do they dismiss words of praise?

Why can’t people just accept praise and recognition when they receive it? Why do they dismiss recognition or even argue that it’s not deserved?

These questions came to mind when I came across an interview with actor James McAvoy in Metro, the free tabloid distributed on the streets of Edmonton and several other cities.

Metro is something I read most frequently when on public transit, usually just picking up a copy left behind by a previous rider. The Feb 4 to 6, 2011 issue was open to a page of entertainment news, so that’s where I began to read.

The interviewer asked McAvoy about his experience providing the voice for a character in the then soon-to-be released Gnomeo and Juliet.

“Actually, it’s been really rewarding, artistically speaking,” McAvoy said. “You get to go in and give it everything. And they don’t ever really tell you no, and they never tell you whether it’s bad or good. Well, they do say ‘It’s great’ a lot, but you kind of go, ‘You say it’s great to everything. I’m not sure it can be true because I was pretty crummy in that last one.’ ”

Why didn’t he just accept what the director said? Just trust him to know what’s “great” and what isn’t? It is unlikely that a director would allow a not-so-great scene to remain in the movie just because he didn’t want the actor to feel bad.

McAvoy’s response to the director’s praise is similar to how some staff members tend to respond when recognized by a supervisor or manager.

“Ah, it was nothing. I was just doing my job.”
“Anyone would have done the same thing.”
“Really, I didn’t do anything. It was the guys on my team.”

When I am the person providing the recognition, I sometimes become frustrated with these types of responses. I have been tempted to—and actually have on occasion—responded, “No, what you did is worthy of recognition. You can trust me on that. I know when someone has done something well, and you did something well.”

I understand why those being recognized might respond as they do, but these protestations should not be interpreted as evidence that the recipients don’t want to be recognized. More likely, it shows that because recognition can be so rare, some people are unsure how to respond. A simple “thank you” is all that is needed:

“Thank you for noticing.”
“I appreciate hearing that.”
“It is good to hear your comments.”
“Wow! That makes me feed good about what I did.”

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