The Opportunity of Acknowledgement
Today I made an advisee cry. I mean, not intentionally, but she still cried.
I let my advisory group know that I won’t be returning to our school next year, and I asked them whose advisory they’d like to join next. As all the other students left the call, one student stayed behind and seemed upset, and she wiped her eyes a few times.
Partly to keep myself from getting wet in the eyes too, partly to prevent an uncomfortable silence, and mostly because of the immense opportunity that presented itself, I acknowledged the student.
(a) I thanked her for her willingness to reach out to me, to visit me, and to express herself with me over the past three years. She’d visit during her breaks from class, and she’d share new and exciting or sad and frustrating events and occurrences. She’d ask for my advice, and she’d want me there as a support when she’d advocate for herself with her teachers.
(b) She is positive, thoughtful, and compassionate. She was willing to be trusting and honest with me. She was interested in fostering a positive and supportive relationship with someone who was once a stranger.
(c) She opened me up to a new world of what it is to be an advisor. I learned how to more effectively engage and support my advisees, and I’ve had a lot of fun and important conversations with them, and our relationships deepened, because of it.
Acknowledgement is a creative and powerful act, and it melts barriers and brings an experience of love. I really like acknowledging people, and I really like being acknowledged. There’s always something to acknowledge another for, even when it’s hard to think of something. (Usually, though, it’s pretty easy to find something.)
Acknowledgment begins with allowing ourselves to get inspired and moved by another person. (Already that makes it a gift we give ourselves too.) Then:
(a) Thank the person for an action. What, specifically, are the things the person has done that you’d like to acknowledge?
(b) Point out the qualities of the person that led to the actions they took. What is it about that person that likely led them to do what they did? What kind of person does something like what they did?
(c) Share the impact that the person's actions and qualities have had on you. What’s the impact on you of what they did and who they’ve been? How did you feel? What’s now possible for you?
(Pro tip: blend steps (a) and (b) together, even rearrange them, when actually acknowledging someone. It’s more natural that way.)
Acknowledgment is a skill we can all develop, and it’s a gift for both the receiver and the giver. When we acknowledge another, we tend to feel good, and for me at least, it helps me deepen my understanding, compassion, and love for others.
Acknowledge someone today, do it generously, and have it be a gift to them. (You'll also find that it's a gift to you too.)
Thanks so much for reading. ❤️
I'm so grateful to the amazing coaches we worked with in Couples Coaching Couples (CCC) for nearly a decade. These acknowledgment steps were shared with us in one of CCC's workshops.
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