In January 2016 I began a series that I was intending to publish as a book but since it has been languishing… I have decided to re-run since it is three years since it was last posted.
The title came about as I dipped into a Thesaurus to find some words for a poem I was writing. I noticed that a great many words that reflected (see what I mean) key elements in our lives began with the letter ‘R’. In the original series there was an introduction, but I am skipping that to dive straight into what I believe is becoming extinct in many areas of our world and our own lives…..
Simple Definition of recognition – http://www.merriam-webster.com
The act of accepting that something is true or important or that it exists
As a young manager over forty years ago, I was tasked to manage an established team who were all at least twenty years older than I was. I had already run my own business and also managed good-sized teams in the catering industry, but this was daunting. Thankfully I had been lucky enough to have worked for a wonderful manager, when beginning my career, who had given me a valuable piece of advice. That was to identify as quickly as possible, what motivated an individual member of staff and to develop a relationship based on the recognition of that motivation.
I followed that advice all through my career and discovered that it also applied to working with those who managed me. Outside of my career it has certainly been an important factor in my personal life too.
Certainly as writers we face the challenge to get noticed on a daily basis, as our books or blog posts join the millions of other titles or articles uploaded hopefully to the various platforms.We know how special it feels when someone, likes, comments and shares our posts or buys and reviews our books, and that feeling of recognition is exhilarating and motivating. Along with Respect, recognition is one of the key elements to a person’s sense of worth. And this is irrespective of age, and even more important in my opinion, for children.
This is not to say that I believe telling a child or an adult they are fabulous every five minutes is an effective way to give them self-worth. It needs to be in response to an action or thought that is made by them. That might be small in the case of a child as they take their first steps towards the real world. But each recognition of an achievement builds their self-confidence based on their efforts that will stand them in good stead once they get to school and then in a work environment.
We tend to regard the act of recognition as being associated with the workplace, show business, the military and other public services. We are accustomed to watching award shows such as The Oscars and The Baftas where actors, actresses, directors, cinematographers etc, are recognised for exceptional performances or productions. We also honour the fact that those who serve in the armed forces, or are first responders, are awarded medals for bravery or long service. We are also accustomed to seeing those in public life or who have supported charities, mentioned in annual honours in our individual countries.
However, we sometimes forget how important recognition is for those who are much closer to us. Unfortunately one of the downsides to our technological world, is that it can be difficult to keep our daily lives in perspective and to identify what is the norm.
We have become saturated with the relentless onslaught of visual images presented to us on television, both in the dramas and the ‘reality’ shows. The one common theme is that they are produced to provide ‘dramatic effect’. Even the so called reality shows are edited to accentuate the extreme highs and lows that the human participants experience. That can, after an extended period of time, alter our view of our own lives.
In some cases of course, this is not a bad thing if it inspires us to achieve more, learn more and experience more of life. But there can be a detrimental impact of this in my opinion, and that is the creation of unrealistic expectations. We begin to feel that we are entitled to those extremes of emotion. That we have a right to live at that pace, enjoy the jet set lifestyle, wear the latest designer clothes, meet great looking people and have wildly romantic and passionate love affairs.
Real life is not actually like that. Neither usually are the people that are close to us in our family or amongst our friends. There might be the odd person who seems to be a little ‘out there’ in some respect, but generally we are surrounded by people who live, work and love in an attempt to make a good life for themselves and their families.
However, that does not mean that those around us do not desire recognition. Each day we perform hundreds of tasks, some are specifically for ourselves, but most are for others. It is these seemingly small gestures that are going unnoticed, and can actually result in disastrous outcomes for relationships in all areas of our lives.
I talked about courtesy and respect in the last post, but it is worth repeating, that the simplest and one of the most effective forms of recognition, for those seemingly small and inconsequential gifts of time or effort given to us, is ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Even if it is a family member who you expect to cook, clean up after you, pay the bills, pick you up from school or work and who is always there in the background.
We are all unique when it comes to which form of recognition we enjoy. This is where you need to get to know each person individually, and to be fair, most of us do that. We choose birthday and Christmas gifts specifically for a person according to their interests or passions. We might prepare a favourite meal to give them a break from cooking everyday, take them out for dinner from time to time, buy them tickets for a concert or sporting event, or plan a surprise weekend away.
Some people hate being publicly praised and prefer a quiet word of gratitude, whilst others like nothing more than a public pat on the back. In our personal lives the same applies and I have seen people cringe when their partner thanks them publicly, but glow when they are brought flowers or taken out for a meal.
However, as a relationship settles into its rhythm, it is very easy to slip into a routine and to assume that recognition of your partner’s contribution to your life, is automatically accepted by them, and that less effort is required.
It is actually very easy to take things for granted. I covered some of that lack of awareness in my chapter on respect. It applies to both our own actions and the actions of others.
As part of my role as a nutritional counsellor over the years, I have met both men and women whose weight and health issues are the result of a lack of worth. For example; we all laugh when we hear the expression ‘my wife does not understand me‘ but in fact that statement applies equally to husbands as well.
I have had many a discussion with an under-appreciated wife and mother who has dived into comfort eating to find the appreciation due to her. There appears to be a misconception about the role of a mother and a father in a family and their expanded list of tasks from cleaner to taxi-driver and breadwinner to bank. There is also the expectation placed on parents by society and dare I say sometimes their own parents about how they should bring up their children. Very stressful at times and sometimes thankless.
Certainly one of the most effective skills to learn as far as I can identify is delegation. When a child is old enough to participate in chores around the house it provides them with life skills that they will need when they are out in the world on their own. It is also is amazing, how mutual recognition for the effort that goes into performing everyday tasks, forges stronger relationships.
Sometimes it is difficult to find the words or deed to show your recognition.
On one illuminating occasion a man came into my centre and asked for gift vouchers for my weight loss programme to give his wife for their silver wedding anniversary. I didn’t normally sell gift vouchers, as it is customary for an individual to decide that they needed to lose weight, and come to me of their own accord.
So I asked the guy in and asked him if his wife was aware that he was going to give her weight loss sessions for this very special milestone in their married life. He responded that she did not, but since she was always saying that she felt fat; she would love the gift! He also added that he felt unsure how to respond when his wife did go on about being overweight and was afraid to comment.
I suggested that he spend the money he had planned on spending on the weight loss sessions on a spa day for his wife with the full works from top to toe. Give her an anniversary card with some money to go spend in a clothes shop, and then for their actual anniversary, book a table in their favourite restaurant to show her off. Oh and not to tell her she looked ‘fine’ but ‘fabulous’.
He did come back to me a couple of months later and booked some weight loss appointments for himself, as he said his wife had started swimming three times a week and was looking amazing; he wanted to make sure he did not let her down!
It is not necessary to go overboard all the time with recognition, as it should be something that is regarded as special and heartfelt. Saying ‘I love you’ ten times a day can dilute the meaning behind the emotion, but you can show someone you love them ten times a day in many different ways.
Earlier I shared the much over used expression “My wife doesn’t understand me!” and there is another you might have heard from someone you are close to “I feel invisible”. Those words or others that have a similar context, are signs that perhaps you need to take a look at how you recognise their contribution to your life. And if you feel that you are not being seen within a relationship, you should consider ways to gently remind those around you that you are very visible and vital to their well-being.
This applies to our extended family and friends too.. They are the ones who are usually there during life’s ups and downs, when we are ill, or when our hearts are broken, lose a job or simply cannot get up in the mornings. They are also there when we celebrate life in all its glory as we get that amazing job, fall in love, have a baby, grow old disgracefully!
What is important is that between those two extremes, when life is sailing along on an even keel for us, that we still recognise their value to us by random acts of kindness that make them feel valued.
Recognition is not always glitz and glamour on the worldwide stage, but is more often a quiet word or simple act of appreciation that will sustain and develop a relationship that will support and delight you for life.
They say that it is much more satisfying to give than to receive. Certainly gifting someone recognition will bring you far more in return.
©Sally Cronin 2019
You can find other posts in the Something to Think About series as well as previous chapters of The R’s of Life: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/something-to-think-about/
As always I love to receive your comments and experiences.. thanks Sally.