Tailoring Recognition to the Recipient

February 4, 2010 Kimberly Horn

Receiving recognition in a private setting will be appreciated by most anyone. Receiving recognition in a public setting can cause major discomfort for an introvert. If you're an “easy giver,” please take care to observe the style of the recognition receiver. This will help you avoid an awkward moment that could possibly negate the value of the recognition.

The bottom line: positively reinforcing behaviors that help achieve the desired results can work wonders for you, your company, and the recognition receiver. But just as you have your own style in giving recognition, people have their own desired style for receiving recognition. Be aware of the style others prefer, respect their preferences, and act accordingly. Use this chart to determine what types of people you'll be recognizing.

While your recognition “vehicles” should relate to personal style, the method or setting is equally important. You may think you have planned a delightful experience, but it might turn into a disaster if you don't consider the recognition receiver's style. In sum, outgoing extroverts feel comfortable with publically receiving recognition. The Enthusiastic Recognition Receiver enjoys public acknowledgments that offer a lot of fanfare and celebration. However, Low-key and Private Recognition Receivers are particularly critical of “gushiness.” They probably will interpret it as insincerity.

To determine which setting people prefer for receiving recognition, ask! To receive valuable information even from your most Private Recognition Receiver, simply print as many copies of the “Tell Us About You” recognition survey form as you have team members and ask for answers. And remember, you're not the only person who will find this information helpful; keep these surveys available for everyone to check when it's time for celebrations or Secret Santa Societies.

If your recipient looks uncomfortable when you're saying thank you or offering praise, be an aware recognition giver. Watch the person you're recognizing for signs of embarrassment. Keep your words brief, tone it down. They are sending you a clear signal that this is not easy for them. But don't avoid praising these Low-key and Private Recognition Receivers in the future. Just keep it brief, or use a less direct method like a written note or an e-mail. The written format can be very effective; because the person can read it over and over and receive the positive effect again and again.

Finally, if the people receiving recognition don't seem to believe you, ask yourself this question: Have I been giving recognition regularly for some time? If not, people may not believe in your new behavior at first. Keep giving sincere, timely, specific recognition. In time, they will start trusting that your behavior is sincere. 


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