You can ruin a long term relationship by simply being unaware of a person’s “recognition strategy”. Here’s what happened to me…

I recently ended a 7 year relationship with a not-for-profit organization that I had given between 70 and 120 hours to each year. The reason I ended  my involvement was because one small act made me feel unappreciated.

The 2 keywords in the previous sentence were “feel” and “unappreciated”.  I have, we all have, certain “recognition strategies” for the feelings we experience. The feeling of love, of being valued, being appreciated, or UN-appreciated, etc. We all recognize certain actions, or behaviors, that trigger certain feelings in us.

My “recognition strategy” for feeling unappreciated was triggered when the head of the organization declined to grant me a small favor. The favor would not have cost them anything in time or money, and while the favor itself was rather insignificant, the fact that it was declined meant a lot to me, a whole lot.

The, I presume unintended, consequence of the decision to not grant the little favor was me ending my involvement with the organization.  Why? Because when the favor was not granted I “recognized” (felt) that  I was not being appreciated to a level that I felt comfortable with.

How I feel plays a huge part in what I do, or not do. As I’m sure it does with you, and your customers, associates and loved ones. Are you aware of the “recognition strategies” your associates, clients or even your family members have for FEELING appreciated, or loved?

A child might feel loved when a parent takes the time to read a story, or go out for a 1 on 1 breakfast. A wife might feel loved when a husband takes the time to REALLY listen.  A co-worker or employee might feel appreciated when they are given credit for an idea or suggestion. A client might feel appreciated when you take the time to call them instead of just sending an e-mail.

Sometimes it pays to ask questions like: “What makes you feel most appreciated for the work you do around here?” Ask a few “feeling questions” and you will probably be very surprised by what you learn.

I know in my head, intellectually, that I was appreciated for my contributions to the organization and yet one simple action caused me to FEEL unappreciated in my heart, or gut, or wherever it is that these uneasy feelings sit.

For me, and I suspect for many others, how I feel trumps what I think. As soon as I recognized that the relationship no longer “felt right” I decided to break it off.

I have heard it said that “decisions are made with emotion and justified logic”. In sales jargon the phrase is, “The heart is closer to the pocketbook than the head.”

What affect are you having on the FEELINGS of those you interact with? What can you do to become more aware and deliberate in evoking the feelings in people  that you REALLY WANT to cause?