Book Summary: The Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden

What should we do if we have underachievers in our lives? Do you have friends that aren't living up to their full potential? Employees who don't put their abilities and talents to good use?

Motivation is usually the first thing that comes to mind. We believe that giving them praise, gratitude, and compliments would motivate them to do better.

We're wasting our time, Manske and Grey said.

They set out to debunk the Motivation Myth: praise, admiration, and compliments aren't as effective as people assume. Instead, they generate entirely another outcome, one that is really unfavorable.

Manske and Grey recommend that we focus on acknowledgment. But that's exactly what we're doing! We often take action of giving compliments, appreciation, or praise and label it as an acknowledgment.

Lesson 1: Acknowledgement - What It Is and What It Is Not

A group of individuals brainstorming while writing on a board. Each of them has something to say, with the other party acknowledging their idea.

Compliments are subjective, whereas acknowledgment is objective.

Acknowledgment is the act of stating what needs to be said without expressing an opinion or passing judgment. It is not an acknowledgment if any of our statements include a thought or a review.

Compliment, Appreciation, Validation, Affirmation, Thanking, Recognition, Praise, Championing, and Cheer-leading are all common types of endorsement.

I'm sure you didn't realize you'd used that many! Here are the several styles that all lead to the same result.

  • Compliment: "The project is wonderful. You are very smart."
  • Appreciation: "I am very grateful for you completing this project on time."
  • Validation: "I see that you have given this project a lot of thought and effort."
  • Affirmation: "I really feel like this project would not have been successful without your input."
  • Thanking: "Thank you for your time and effort on this project."
  • Recognition: "You are a talented project manager."
  • Praise: "Fantastic work."
  • Championing: "I told the CEO that you were the right person for this project."
  • Cheerleading: "I knew you could do it."

The important thing to remember is that everyone mentioned above has an opinion or a judgment. Ours. Acknowledgment is factual, and it directs all of one's attention and emphasis to the other.

That is noteworthy. It is not about us when we receive an acknowledgment.

Acknowledgment: "You finished the project on time."

Manske and Grey argue that individuals are recognized; they get to see what they did rather than hearing someone else's perspective about what they did. When someone is acknowledged, they feel valued, affirmed, and recognized.

They can appreciate their accomplishments without any baggage. And they get to sing their own praises, and they get to be their own cheerleader and champion.

This helps them develop self-assurance, self-worth, self-esteem, and faith in their own abilities. They can easily see what has to be done the next time to achieve the desired outcome.

Simply expressing what happened or what outcome was achieved is pure acknowledgment.

Acknowledgment builds with time.

An acknowledgment must be for something that has been accomplished. It has to be finished.

Acknowledging someone's contributions shows that we are paying attention.

To be successful, an acknowledgment must be precise. What was it that someone did? What occurred, exactly? What was the end result?

An acknowledgment must refer to something that individuals accomplished or a result that they achieved. It all comes down to the facts.

The greatest acknowledgments are brief, straightforward, and focused on a single topic.

Lesson 2: How To Acknowledge

The first test. What do we recognize? Okay, we realize that we need to describe what happened or the outcomes. But how can we make this as efficient as possible?

Manske and Grey point up an intriguing fact. People will express their desire to be recognized for their accomplishments.

The simplest method to acknowledge someone is to listen to them and then repeat what they said with real gratitude, wonder, interest, or astonishment in your voice.

The most difficult aspect of acknowledgment is removing ourselves from it. It's no longer about them; it's about us as soon as the word "I" appears. We must be entirely removed from the equation.

The same is true for descriptors and modifiers in what we say. Manske and Grey offer an example.

We're confident that 'you voiced your opinions' makes us pleased.

We're undoubtedly a little disappointed after hearing, "You stated your thoughts clearly." It comes to a close on a depressing note.

Didn't we say all we wanted to tell the last time? We are no longer recognizing when we include modifiers and adjectives in our acknowledgment; we are judging.

Let's take a look at the tone of our acknowledgment. The tone, according to Manske and Grey, should be energetic. With our recognition, we wish to offer the person some vitality. The receiver will either not feel recognized, or the credit will have considerably less impact if our tone is bland or uninterested.

Finally, acknowledgment does not need a reaction. The individual doesn't need to express gratitude. When we are waiting for a response to our acknowledgment, our focus is on ourselves.

Lesson 3: Acknowledgement As Feedback

A higher position employee listening to the feedback of his team, as good and bad feedbacks are said to him, without any judgement.

When we are recognized, we can hear what we did well and what we did poorly. We may either do more of the same or try something new based on the comments.

Manske and Grey remind us that admitting what didn't work is really valuable. And the rules are the same as when you acknowledge something that happened.

Remember that acknowledgment is nothing more than a factual statement. There isn't much to quibble about. It's easier to influence or change future performance when you don't have to justify your activities.

Along the same lines, acknowledging what didn't work without passing judgment fosters a safer atmosphere where others don't have to worry about getting in trouble when they make errors.

They can expect the facts to be addressed rather than a response to a decision.

Acknowledgment demonstrates our faith in the recipient's ability to correct and replace what doesn't work with what does.

Lesson 4: Self-Acknowledgement

A female walking towards optimism as she walks towards a smile sign. This relates to self-awareness, allowing you to stay focused on the facts.

Manske and Grey urge us to be proud of our accomplishments. According to Manske and Grey, self-awareness increases emotions of well-being, self-confidence, optimism, happiness, and self-worth, as well as giving us a surge of energy and excitement.

Self-acknowledgement follows the same "how-to" as acknowledging others. Without expressing an opinion or passing judgment, state what you did or the outcome you achieved. The only change is that "I" replaces "You."

Acknowledgment helps us stay focused on the facts rather than our biased version of events. It's about playing a part, not about who we are.

Lesson 5: Acknowledgement In Leadership

A boss putting his thumbs up as a sign of good job, acknowledging his employee that he has done a good job.

Management was developed to manage objects, procedures, and paper, as Manske and Grey point out. It was never meant for management to be applied to individuals. People aren't objects.

Alternatively, their solution – acknowledgment – enables employees to reflect on their achievements, thank those who have helped them, and get support.

Due to acknowledgment, people and the settings in which they work, relax, and play becomes more open. When people are recognized, it becomes apparent that they are productive and making a significant contribution.

Finding a means to increase transparency in our employees and team is the easiest and most effective approach to enhance our leadership. To do so, we must set aside our egos and managerial training and acknowledge others.

Acknowledgment enables people to learn from their accomplishments as well as their failures.

Removing people's fear of punishment enhances communication, productivity, receptivity, and connection, as well as levels of creativity and performance within the domain of acknowledgment.

Most leaders mistake wasting time and energy attempting to persuade individuals to overcome their reluctance rather than fostering openness.

Pushing people will only make them more resentful. When a leader learns what matters most to workers and what accomplishments and outcomes mean the most to them, they can start assisting them in doing more of those things.

Lesson 6: Acknowledgement In Sales

A customer service acknowledging her client, as her client has questions to ask. This shows that the client is listened to and is present in the conversation.

In the context of selling, Manske and Grey believe that acknowledgment is a useful strategy. Acknowledgment allows us to establish a genuine and respectful relationship with a possible new customer.

Our potential client is warmed up by acknowledgment. In other words, it puts us on the same page with the client. They feel good about themselves when we acknowledge them.

They instinctively like us more when we are present because they feel better about themselves, making them more likely to conduct business with us. It was a "Wow" moment. We stand out since most of our competitors do not pay genuine attention to the individuals they are marketing to.

Having stated that, we must pay attention to what the prospect says to make this work. We will miss opportunities for acknowledgment if we are preoccupied with figuring out what to say or do next or which portion of our script to recite.

Acknowledgment is equally effective in customer service as it is in sales. A client may feel noticed, valued, and much more than just another number with just one recognition.

When people want assistance or are unhappy, acknowledgment is highly beneficial. Even a small amount of sincere appreciation may make a huge difference.

The trick is to pay attention to the consumer and pick a few easy things to compliment them on.

Adding acknowledgment to our customer service approach will cost us almost nothing and instantly improve our customers' experience.

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