Power of Acknowledgement


The other day I received this gorgeous gift by special delivery.

I was so moved by it, a hugely thoughtful surprise gift, a brooch I can wear on my lapel, a surprise gift made for me by my friend and mentee Maeve Gillies.

Maeve is the creative genius behind Maevona.com, and as you can see from this photo, she wears her brand around her neck.


Maeve was recently talking to me about the power of being mentored by me, and this led me to post: “Letting the light shine in for others“.

At that time, though, I had no idea that, after I’d complimented her a while ago on her gorgeous Maevona logo necklace, she had arranged for one to be made for me with my logo.

This wonderful and highly thoughtful gift as a thank you for my mentoring really moved me so much, it was so thoughtful.

It also got me to thinking about the power of acknowledgement.

Years ago I read the “One Minute Manager” and I took on board the lesson of “one minute praising”. It is so powerful to give people your full focus and attention, even for a very short interaction, and, as Ed Percival later taught me, to look to make an impact in every interaction. It can be as simple as a nod and eye contact to a flight attendant as they say thank you as you leave a flight, to reading a name badge and addressing someone by name as you speak to them.

What could you do to acknowledge people? One can simply begin by giving them your whole and deep presence.


I share with you today a link to download a wonderful note written by the inestimable Tom Peters, 4000 words simply titled Acknowledgement.

An excerpt to whet your appetite :

Acknowledgement! *

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” ~ William James

“Society is a vehicle for earthly heroism. Man transcends death by finding meaning for his life. It is the burning desire for the creature to count. What man really fears is not extinction, but extinction with insignificance.” ~ Ernest Becker, Denial of Death

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, my choice as best management book,
yes, perhaps ever, Dale Carnegie points out that Mr. James chose “‘craving,” not
‘wish’ or ‘desire’ or ‘longing.’” It is not coincidental that Mr. Carnegie’s riff on the
aggressive word choice appears at the start of a chapter titled, “The BIG Secret of
Dealing With People.” “BIG” indeed!

So we have the bold “craving” instead of the more timid wish-desire-longing, and
Mr. Becker, in turn, offers “burning desire for the creature to count” and the
ultimate fear of “extinction with insignificance.” No pussyfooting by either author!
I believe in the limitless (literally!) power of “Thank you” notes—and have so
written time and again. I love Ken Blanchard’s “one-minute praising,” one of the
three pillars of The One-Minute Manager. And I groove on “recognition.” And
“appreciation.” And B.F. Skinner’s “positive reinforcement.”

But none of these comes close to matching the intensity and overwhelming power of
Mr. Becker’s “burning desire of the creature to count.” (Incidentally, the Becker
quote appears early in In Search of Excellence.)

Is it that big a deal?

As a Ph.D.–level student of organizational psychology and effectiveness (with
individual psych at its core) and a 45-year close observer of literally thousands of
enterprises, I am willing to say, unequivocally, “YES—it is indeed that big a deal.”
As big as Carnegie’s 1st chapter title implies: “The BIG Secret of Dealing With

*The most powerful word in the English language?