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“Recognition of the individual affirms respect for human dignity and the uniqueness of each person” (Charles Colson).
IT’S A DELIGHTFUL THING TO BE A PERSON WHO “RECOGNIZES” OTHER PEOPLE. Contrary to the thinking of the chronically competitive, it doesn’t take anything away from us to acknowledge others and their accomplishments. We don’t lose anything by the recognition of those around us; we gain a great deal — almost as much, in fact, as those whom we recognize. “Appreciation is a wonderful thing: it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well” (Voltaire).
Basically, recognition means that we “notice” someone, but when we use the word, we usually mean the favorable noticing of that person. When we give recognition, we’re acknowledging that we’re aware of, and we appreciate, the good qualities of another person. And shouldn’t it be obvious that that’s a good thing to do? As Charles Colson reminds us, recognizing another individual is an affirmation of our “respect for human dignity and the uniqueness of each person.”
One of the most universal of human traits is the need to be appreciated. Some individuals, of course, allow that need to become obsessive, and their lives turn out to be no more than a quest for approval and praise. But even the most emotionally healthy among us need some appreciation. We need to know that there’s at least someone who recognizes our individuality and our efforts to do good works.
Nowhere is recognition more important than in the marriage relationship. Oliver Goldsmith wasn’t overstating the case much when he said, “All that a husband or wife really want is to be pitied a little, praised a little, appreciated a little.” It’s such an easy, enjoyable thing to honor our mates with recognition, but it’s often neglected.
Yet whether in marriage or in other relationships, few things are more motivating than recognition. When specific praise is given to someone in a way that is thoughtfully appropriate to them personally, great good comes from that, almost without exception. So let’s recognize one another. Let’s do it thoughtfully. And let’s do it regularly.
“If you want people to understand that you value their contributions and that they are important, the recognition and praise you provide must have meaning that is specific to each individual” (Tom Rath).