A little Acknowledgement goes a long, long way…

“Keep up the good work”, “Well done in that meeting”, “Thank You.” They’re nice words, aren’t they? Even just going back and reading them again makes me feel better. But how often do we hear them? Or more importantly, how often do we say them?? It costs us nothing to say these words. Maybe a little bit of pride, but that’s it. You don’t have to reach into your wallet, hold an event or write it down (although sending a sincere hand written ‘thank you’ card or email can be hugely powerful). All it takes is for you to open your mouth, assemble a few words together and PRESTO!

In last two weeks I have experienced firsthand how powerful a little acknowledgement can be. I’ve recently joined a new company that is making a big impact in the Australian learning and development market, and my role is to develop a new sales team in a new office to expand the business. Last Friday afternoon we decided to put on a few drinks and give out a few awards (a piece of paper with their name on it saying ‘well done’ in some way or another) to say thanks to those who have being doing a great job. One award was presented to a trainer who had gone out on a few sales calls to support the sales person and answer any training questions the prospect may have asked. After we toasted this particular individual and handed him the piece of paper, he began to tear up and had to walk away to compose himself. Later that night, he came up to me and said, “You know, that’s the nicest thing anyone has done for me in a long time. I can’t wait to get home and show my wife this.” I mean, wow! All we did was acknowledge this guy on a doing a great job.

On another occasion, one of the sales people who had been struggling to achieve the results they knew they were capable of, was just about to hand their resignation letter. Just prior to doing this, he received a touching email from the company’s CEO that said something along the lines of  “hold in there, I know the results are just around the corner…” This little email gave him the reassurance and confidence to get back on the horse, and I’m happy to report that he was the highest selling sales person last month.

One of my favourite academics/business writers, Robert Cialdini, whose work around the psychology of persuasion in particular his pioneering six principles of persuasion, talks about how powerful acknowledgement can be in not only improving someone’s performance, but also in creating a more accepting and motivating attitude towards the person who offered the acknowledgement. So managers out there take note – say thank you a little more and you’ll not only have your team performing better, you’ll hear ‘yes’ from them more often too.

Cialdini even delves into how acknowledgement can be utilised to get working relationships back on track. We’ve all worked with someone who we wish would just disappear, however in a working environment (especially if this someone is your boss) you know you’ve really only got three options in dealing with this person.

1. You can quit you job.

2. You can carry on doing what you’re doing, all the while dreaming that one morning a colleague comes over and says, “You’ll never guess what happened…. Barry got hit by a bus on his way to work this morning!”


3. You can try and do something to improve the relationship. Cialdini suggests that – as hard as it may be to do so – you should think of something you admire about this person. Maybe it’s their attention to detail, or their work ethic. Whatever it may be, the next time you see them you should really try to acknowledge them with a genuine compliment. I think you’ll be surprised at their reaction, and I’m sure next time you ask them for something they will at least take the time to hear you out.

And lastly seeing that we are heading into the festive season, the season of giving. How about try giving some genuine acknowledgement to that person who really deserves it or even that person who even doesn’t and then let me know the result of what happens.

I would also like to take this opportunity to Thank You. Thank you for supporting me and this blog. My hope is the words and ideas I have shared over the last year have brought you value and tangible skills that you have been able to use and improve your own, your team’s and/or your business’s performance, productivity and profit.

To your success and Merry Christmas,



Posted on December 4, 2011, in Sales Advice, Sales Management and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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