The Power of Acknowledgment

Being acknowledged feels good. Being agreed with feels even better, but even just the mere act of someone saying “hmm..let me think about that” to something you say is an indication they’re acknowledging that you have a voice and your voice is worthy. Acknowledgment is powerful, think about it:

When someone leaves you on “read” without responding…

Or the dreaded silent treatment when someone refuses to acknowledge you for a period of time…

The even more dreaded Ghosting: when someone stops acknowledging your existence all together. (Though, I don’t know if ghosting is still a word, or if it went the way of “on fleek”).

In life, we’ve learned that not acknowledging someone is the quickest way to make a deep cut. As in life, this happens too often in the workplace.

We’ve all been there. You throw out an idea during a conversation, and the next person says “okay. So here’s my idea.”

It feels like a punch in the gut…at least to me.

Some people do this completely harmlessly, maybe they don’t know how to transition the conversation smoothly (or your Zoom/Chime connection is bad and no one heard you 😂) .Others do it to weaponize: they don’t agree with you, or they want to make you look bad, or a host of other selfish, immature reasons.

But, the people I admire, make an effort, either consciously or not, to make everyone’s voice heard. They are master communicators, skilled meeting moderators and tend to be a pleasure to work with, and for. The most talented are the people who notice someone’s lack of acknowledgment and rewind the conversation back to give that acknowledgment. There are a few senior leaders I work with who are absolutely brilliant at doing this; listening to them lead meetings is a MasterClass in creating an inclusive working environment.

“Inclusive” meaning “not exclusionary”; the dictionary definition of Inclusion: Not excluding any of the parties or groups involved in something.

The leaders I mentioned are inclusive leaders because they use acknowledgment as a tool of good, not evil. Exclusionary leaders weaponize acknowledgment by withholding it and making you feel small and unimportant, or conversely, using it as a carrot to get something done.

I’m hopeful that as more inclusively-minded individuals rise through the ranks in corporate America, we’ll see diversity of thought, race, gender and more – simply because someone had the courtesy to acknowledge someone else’s voice.

Who knew acknowledgment held so much power?

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