At times I’ve been accused of forgetting some of the niceties in life and, of course, this can come with a cost.  It’s easy for us to extend a pleasantry and it’s easy for us to not do so.  There can be several reasons for doing so ranging from being so totally focussed on the subject at hand to a negative feeling toward the other person.

When we fail to acknowledge another person they may feel discounted – it all depends on what’s going on their head at the time.  It doesn’t really take much effort to acknowledge someone and when we do they feel validated, they start to think about us, to think about how much they like being around us, what great things we’ve done – after all, everyone wants to be associated with a winner, how we may be able to help them with a project or, perhaps, how good they feel when we offer a cheery hello – how their world has lit up like it does as soon as the days begin to get a little longer and the sun a little brighter in the Spring.

None of us is a mind-reader and so we are therefore not able to see what’s going on in other’s heads, we don’t know if they’ve just had an argument with someone and are feeling bad about themselves or if they’ve just buried their best friend or, indeed, if they have just celebrated a momentous occasion.


It’s when we fail to acknowledge that person, that little voice starts off in their head.  Most people are focussed on themselves more than anything else and when we have not offered a pleasantry they start to tell themselves a host of things like –

  • She doesn’t like me
  • She thinks she’s too good to talk to me
  • She doesn’t think I’m good enough
  • She doesn’t think I’m worthy enough

And so the list goes on and they continue to build their story.  You might ask – well, what’s all this got to do with me?  Fair question.

So when this happens at work and the manager fails to acknowledge the efforts of one of his team members after a while the team member (and more likely many of the team members as they all talk in the tea room or wherever) begins to put less effort into his work and a “them and us” mentality begins to develop.  After some time – and for some it may be a long time and for others not so long – their productivity begins to fall off, they begin to resent the job, the place of work, the manager and/or a host of other things when all along they really resent themselves.

What is the cost to the manager?  Possibly nothing in the short term but long term the cost can become insurmountable.

What about a family situation – one member of the family failed to acknowledge the help of another and before too long there is an on-going feud where people are not talking to each other and a massive rift sets in.

What was the cost of a simple “thank you – I’m so grateful for your help?  Or some similar comment.  More particularly, who is paying for that omission?

What is an acknowledgement, a pleasantry?

Basically it’s like a front door and when it’s open the people inside seem to be welcoming you in and when it’s shut, there is no communication, no welcome, nothing.

Think about this for a moment – when you go to your favourite shop, it may be a café or perhaps a boutique.  You have been thinking about going to this place for a while and on your way there, you have pictures in your mind of what it looks like, you can recall your last experience and some pleasant memories.  Basically, you have a good feeling about the place which is why you are wanting to go back there.

And when you arrive – the door is closed, the lights are out and a sign on the door says the equivalent of “gone fishing”.  How do you feel then – disappointed or cheated, perhaps or possibly even empty?  Generally it’s not a good feeling.

So how do we do this ?

Sometimes a brief “hello Mary – how are things going?”  and then give Mary the time of day before  moving on.

Maybe it’s a letter, an email, a brief note, a box of chocolates or some flowers, something to acknowledge the other person’s efforts, their contribution.

In a work situation it may be an award a pay rise or an overseas holiday as a result of a sales promotion or maybe just “Great Job – thank you”.

When speakers come to various organisations someone usually gives a vote of thanks at the end and this is accompanied by a small gift.

Let me ask you –

What if – next time someone does you a good turn, goes the extra mile or even just passes you in the street, how will you choose to acknowledge them?  And most importantly, expect nothing in return.  We acknowledge the other person, not because we want to use them for something (how does that feel when it happens to you?) but because we want to.

How quickly we discover what goes around comes around – and it’s always a good feeling when it’s something that makes us feel really good.

Remember – every champion deserves a great coach – why not you?

Talk soon