Start With Acknowledging Yourself

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After my last post, I received a thoughtful e-mail from a project manager in Barcelona, Spain. Because she was constantly criticized growing up, she said she had difficulty acknowledging others.

One's ability to acknowledge is an interesting and important topic. Although it focuses on our personal issues regarding whether or not we were acknowledged in our families, our schools and in our early jobs, we are all people first and project managers second. Therefore I would like to address the heartfelt question that was raised, as it has importance for all of us.

A person's ability to acknowledge others freely, generously and sincerely is linked to the way we're raised. If we were encouraged and praised as children, we're likely to grow up with a deep sense of self-worth and confidence. If we were constantly criticized, we have more work to do to gain a sense of self-worth.

We have to become our own support system, which can be hard. And it's even harder to acknowledge others when we've feel like we have not been acknowledged for who we are and the contributions we make. If that's true for you, then you will have to push yourself more to deliver acknowledgments that may come to mind but that you may have trouble carrying out.

We as human beings crave acknowledgment. Receiving acknowledgements releases a chemical called dopamine in our brains that makes us feel good, perform better and work harder to get more of what's called "the dopamine drench," per an article titled "In Praise of Praising Your Employees" published in the Gallup Management Journal.

So here's my advice if you were underacknowledged in your earlier life: Start by taking stock of who you are and what your contribution is to your workplace, your family and to the world. Then you can exercise the muscle on the underside of your right arm, as you reach up and over to give yourself a pat on the back!

In my courses, we always start by telling each other something special and unique about ourselves. I invite all of you to do just that--share something special about yourself with a friend or coworker--and send me an e-mail telling me about it. With your permission, I might even post it.
Posted by Judy Umlas on: September 14, 2009 12:19 PM | Permalink

Comments (2)

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The above post is quite good but I would like to point out something, which I faced and overcame. I had too much confidence that I am capable of doing whatever I manage. Have confidence in yourself that you do good. Praise the others even though it doesn't come from the depth of your heart because may be you know that you can do it better, but we can't do everyone's work because you are capable of doing it. You are a manager because you have the efficiency and the other person hasn't come to that position because she hasn't tried may be or whatever the cause is. So, if you haven't been praised start praising others now and they will praise you The world is full of 'You pat my back and I pat your back'

Judith Umlas
Dear Bhavani,

Thank you for your interesting comments. I understand what you are saying about acknowledging others even if it doesn't come from your heart, but I do disagree.

I think the kind of acknowledgment you are speaking about is really more like recognition. Recognition is geared to the good and positive things that people do, as opposed to acknowledgment, which communicates on who they are and their value to your organization. It lets them know that they make a difference.

Both are great, but I really invite you to acknowledge people in a heartfelt and authentic way. Then you will see amazing things happen. If you would like a bit of coaching on this, please email me at

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