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The Value of Giving Recognition

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

Positive Masculinity Contributor - Mac Scotty McGregor

Founder of Positive Masculinity, Author, Former US Karate Team Champion, Martial Arts Hall of Fame Inductee, Speaker, Author, Coach

On an early spring day, I walked back to my car in a residential neighborhood in Capitol Hill, Seattle. On the streets of the city, cars park along both sides and leave a narrow passageway to get through. It was garbage day, and I saw a waste truck trying to make its way out of the alley and down the street where I was parked. The driver had to navigate a tight gap to get out of the alley and onto the street. I paused and watched him take his time moving forward and back, as he slowly made progress. He inched past the poorly parked cars along both sides of the street and intricately handled the large, bulky garbage truck with patience and grace. The truck came so close to other cars; some of them were parked with their nose tipped out into the street, some not close enough to the curb, many crooked. His facial expression stayed calm and collected, like a pro doing his thing.

One of the things about observing a professional at anything is that they make something complicated for many look easy. He did this and he also saw me watching him. As he drove alongside my car–where I patiently stood by, waiting for him to pass–he saw me shaking my head and smiling. His window was down when he passed by, and I told him, "Hey, you have to be one of the best drivers in this city, man. That was amazing, and you make it look easy. I appreciate you!" He smiled with a big grin and said, "Thank you buddy for noticing and saying something." Then I patted my heart, and he nodded to me and smiled. We made eye contact the whole time we interacted—a chance meeting with a stranger and man-to-man acknowledgment of one another.

As I got in my car and drove away, I realized how rarely guy-to-guy recognition, acknowledgment, and gratitude happens. It also dawned on me that I had just had a unique and intimate interaction that was an example of "positive masculinity." Two guys, who did not even know each other before that second, shared a natural, eye-to-eye moment of simply giving one another recognition. Where are the news crews when these positive moments happen in the world?

This interaction only took 6 minutes of my time. I was observant and willing to give acknowledgment and recognition. His willingness to have a conversation and show mutual appreciation also made this connection possible. We both left the experience feeling richer inside and feeling seen. Why is that so difficult for many? It should not be. We need to normalize guys cheering each other on and giving one another recognition for doing good things.

One of the obstacles to this is that men have been conditioned and socialized to be competitive and not collaborative, but we are better and stronger when we pull one another up rather than tearing each other down. We can make better efforts in the future to look for times and ways to give each other kudos. It shows confidence when we are willing to give praise to others who are doing good things in the world. It's time to ditch the old messaging and embrace new ways that create an environment where we can all thrive. It does not take away from me for you to do well. When we all do well, it makes our entire community flourish.

I challenge you to look for times to give other men compliments, recognition, and acknowledgment. It will be like a boomerang that comes backatcha and spreads like wildfire.

Ways I Give Recognition

  • Pat on the back

  • Fist bump

  • Verbal praise - “Good Work”

  • Praise in front of others

  • Send a note of recognition

  • Text a note of recognition

  • Give a reward or prize

Important Strategies When I Give Recognition

  • Make it personal and accurate

  • Foster a recognition culture - where feedback is given often

  • Encourages others to give feedback

  • Be genuine

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