…to ourselves and the biggest lever in people development. We could also say: “the biggest lever in people manipulation”. However, let us keep at least one positive side to that issue.

We know since Freud that recognition is one of the main drivers for personal development but the scale of its importance is hardly ever understood. I have built my “Charisma Concept” on the philosophy of “if people are allowed to be working out of their strengths and if they feel by doing so like contributing something important to society and are recognized for it, then not only their personal development but also the development of their communities will be positive.” Therefore, I definitely know about the power of recognition, but last Monday the limitless mightiness of that “tool” struck me more powerfully than usual.

The situation:
Since three months, I am taking part in a business development program for entrepreneurs and in the very first session, during the very first round of presentations, one of my class colleagues – let us name her “Mona” – suddenly “fired” at me when I was presenting myself. I was puzzled, wondering what might make that woman so fearful to attack when no war was declared. I am not attending that program in my trainer role so I decided I would not make the effort just now to find out, I would simply take notice and stick to an observer’s position.

Mona kept her general sharp, somewhat aggressive behavior during all sessions towards all people.
Then Monday came. Between the sessions, we were meeting up with other colleagues for some kind of co-coaching. The teamwork would then be presented to the whole group. When Monas sparring partner talked about their encounter it sounded less like the presentation of a business meeting but rather like a hymn to the most impressive woman he has ever met in his whole life. Even Mona was taken by surprise.

And here the miracle happened: at the blink of an eye, Mona changed completely. It was the first time I saw her smile, her sharp traits became soft, in the break she chatted vividly with others and when we left she called me by my first name to comment on something I has said earlier… in a non-aggressive way.

Miracle – Miracle – Miracle, I thought.

I will never forget that incident. Never before it has become so clear to me what praise can do. What a powerful tool praise – even more than pure recognition – is when dealing with people.

Just think of it: the ones who show you their hardest face are the most fragile, the ones who are the most aggressive are the most dependent on recognition and praise.

Think of what you could do, of what you could change, of what you could create if you would just give praise when your instinct tells you to let go, back off or fight.

Think of how that world could change.

And now think of all those who know about this tool and who exercise it on you. Is it to YOUR profit? Or to theirs?
Think of all those people who hunger for recognition since their early childhood: how fragile they are in the face of skillful allurement, what an easy prey they are to fundamentalists of all kinds.

What is the lesson to be learnt?

Be kind. And see the beauty in everyone. First of all in yourself.

This post is also available in: German