Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Power of Meaningful Acknowledgement

     Those who know me best know that I do my best thinking in the shower (sorry for the image).  Well this morning I had one of those great shower thoughts that's simple, yet powerful.  And it formed the basis for today's act of kindness.  Let me share the story here.
     I've often heard it said in business that "what gets measured gets done."  I think there's a corollary to that in our personal lives: "what gets acknowledged gets repeated."  When we give meaningful acknowledgement or appreciation (specific, timely, honest), we reinforce the behavior that's being acknowledged.  Those of us who are parents certainly know this as it relates to raising our children.  The same, of course, is true for adults.
     It occurs to me that if we pay attention to instances of great works around us and we take the extra time/effort to acknowledge them in a meaningful way, we'll automatically create a wave of even more great stuff happening all around us.  Pretty easy and pretty powerful, if done with sincerity.  Today I was determined to find those opportunities and capitalize on them.  One was pretty straightforward and one ended up taking some work.
     My first opportunity came at the gym where I work out with a trainer.  I've been working with this trainer for about 2 months and he's doing a great job.  After our session was over today, I decided to let him know how much I appreciated the way he was working with me.  I was very specific in telling him precisely the things he was doing that made a real difference.  His smile made it clear how much it meant to him.  I'll bet he carried himself differently as he worked with his clients the rest of the day.
     My second opportunity was related to something that happened last night.  As I was preparing the marketing e-mail for this blog that I sent out this morning, I was struggling a bit with the software program I use, Constant Contact.  When I couldn't quite get the template to line up the way I wanted, I called their support unit (they actually have "live" support people available till 11 pm!), and spoke to a woman named Schermisia who tried to help me.  The short version of this part of the story is that Schermisia took some extraordinary steps to basically recreate my entire e-mail in another template to make it easier for me.
     My plan today was to call the President and CEO of Constant Contact, and tell her about Schermisia and the specific things she did to help me.  As it turns out, it's hard to get a hold of the CEO (Gail Goodman is her name) other than by e-mail but I figured I owed it to Schermisia to make it happen.  So I sent a long, very detailed e-mail to Gail telling her all the particulars of my experience, as well as acknowledging a number of other excellent things about Constant Contact.  In less than an hour I had a great response from Gail and we engaged in a bit of e-mail conversation (and I now have her phone number).  She appreciated my note, and assured me that Schermisia would be publicly acknowledged for her efforts.
     I certainly could have left it at the simple "thank you" I offered last night, and I didn't have to go to such lengths to deliver a bigger and more detailed acknowledgement, but I'll bet there are several people who wore much broader smiles on their faces today - and that can only be a good thing.

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