Sunday, April 22, 2018

Distinction: Respect vs. Recognition

I’ve been reading quite a few articles and blogs lately about the importance of recognition in the workplace. Recognition programs are used in an effort to improve employee morale, and companies spend a great deal of money on team events, gifts, recognition cards, and other paraphernalia in the attempt to make that happen.  I have been mulling this around in my mind for several days now, and wanted to share with all of you some thoughts on the difference between recognition and respect.  Does one feed the other, or are they distinctly different?

Recognition comes from the Latin recognoscere, meaning knowledge or feeling that someone or something present has been encountered before. Modern usage is of the word signifies special notice or attention. Recognition, for me, is about praise for actions, attitude, or work well done. Or, it can be about reprimand for attitude, actions or work that is not up to expectation; the shadow side of recognition. Individually, recognition is about striving for external validation that what you are doing is meaningful and making a difference, earning praise from your family and friends, superiors and peers, as well as customers. From a company perspective, this is good information to have, as feedback, but does it fulfill the intentions of improving employee morale? At a personal level, does it improve self-esteem?

Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, respect comes from the Latin respectus, meaning to look back or regard. Modern definition is about high or special regard, or esteem. My interpretation of respect is about holding the individual in your heart as valid, knowledgeable, confident, and excellent at what they do. It is about giving them your full attention, listening deeply and fully so they know you get them. Respect has a power to it. A deep flowing of positive energy, and comes from a strength of character within the person giving it.

It occurs to me that recognition is about receiving, while respect is about giving. Do you agree?

As a manager or business owner, it is good to know that when you and your employees treat each other with respect, and all your actions and attitudes flow from that perspective, there will be no need for a recognition program. Feedback will flow freely, because both positive and negative feedback will be given out of respect for the individual. Learning in your organization will happen by example. Boundaries will be known, and standards will be set. The expectations will be well explained and widely known.

From an individual perspective, respect is an internal action taken in creating balance and integrity in your life. It is the intentional choices you make to live your values and your priorities, bringing you to a state of non-judgment. For example, if one of your priorities is to watch what you eat and be as physically active as you can, respect comes from not beating yourself up over the cookie you ate at the potluck you attended, but in giving conscious thought to your next meal. It means if you exercised three times in a week, when you intended to exercise five times, you celebrate the three times you were able to exercise, and continue to work toward meeting your intentions. It means you give yourself the time you need to enjoy the things you love to do and bring forth the creativity in your life.

How will you give yourself and others respect today and in the future?

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