I got into a deep conversation on acknowledgement with Efrain Pacheco, a senior project manager at the U.S. Department of Justice and assistant vice president of the Chapter-to-Chapter Outreach Program for the PMI Washington, D.C. chapter.
Efrain shared something poignant. He told me he's humble by nature and this is the way he was brought up in Ecuador. And as a result, he has difficulty accepting acknowledgements.
At the Executive Office for Immigration Review where he worked as project manager for the information systems and IT support, for example, Efrain was given an award for turning around project.
It was given to him in from of his whole office. So he smiled, but he told me he couldn't say anything or even let himself feel anything because he felt so strongly that his entire team should have received the award.
Efrain's story brings up two important issues: the need to accept acknowledgments with grace and appreciation, and the positive value of wanting to share the glory with one's team members. I am going to focus on the first now and address the other in a future post.
Here's the deal, folks. When we don't accept an acknowledgment graciously, it's as if that person gave you a gift, and you said, "No thanks. I don't want or need that. I don't even like it."
That's what an acknowledger is left with when the acknowledgee says, "Oh, it was nothing" or "It was no big deal." Or as in Efrain's case, when he just smiled but didn't express his appreciation and allow himself to feel the joy that comes naturally with being acknowledged. He just couldn't let it in. Instead, he kept a wall around himself.
When I told him he was rejecting a gift, he was shocked. He had never thought of it that way. He is now committed to working on accepting the precious gifts of acknowledgment.
Remember, someone who acknowledges another in a heartfelt and authentic way is making himself or herself vulnerable. They are trusting that the person will fully receive their gift.
Don't disappoint them.