Do you know what is one of the most destructive words that you can say to a young boy?

“Good boy.”

I know. But how programmed is it when you see a kid to go, “Oh, what a good boy”.

Literally, I find myself at least thirty times a day going, “What a good..ah – mmmm”.

Or I say it and go, “Ah, good boy”. And my wife just goes, “grrh”.  

It’s important to know this because there’s a huge amount of power in social recognition.

So, when you’re working with children, which is much like working with a small adult, okay, let’s be honest. When we’re talking sometimes when it comes to talent or certainly a staff member or employee, what do you think is the best way to recognise a child?

Well, one of the things that we practice is, if Noah does something that we want him to do, and that we want to acknowledge, we say, “Thank you for doing that, I really appreciate the effort”.

Social recognition is extremely powerful.

Social recognition is extremely powerful.

Or, “I appreciate it when you do that, Noah. Thank you”.

Which again, it goes against all of my programming because I just wasn’t brought up that way.

Understanding Social Recognition

The concepts apply in the same way to adults. What do you think is the number one reward that most people, when they get it, they actually enjoy it more than any other reward. Social recognition.

Now, when you consider mammals, what do you think mammals are constantly looking for? They’re looking for recognition from the herd leader.

And every time the herd leader comes over, clop, clop, clop, and gives them a lick and makes a nice horsy noise, the rest of the herd goes, “Ooh, he got some attention. That horse is special”.

If the horse comes over and goes, clop, clop, clop, grabs his ear and bites him and gives him a kick, the rest of the herd goes, “Huh, he’s obviously in trouble”.

We want to make sure that we are not saying, “Good boy or good girl”, we’re saying, can I have everyone’s attention please. I would just like to acknowledge Mattias for the incredible work that he has done in the organisation the last three months”. 

“You know what, I just want to say thank you. I really appreciate the amount of effort you’ve put in here, and I want everyone in the company to know he shows up early, he stays back late, he works on weekends, he never makes a noise, and I just want to say thank you in front of everyone. Can we all be upstanding and give this person a round of applause for the effort that they’ve put in.”

That social recognition creates drive because they’re being acknowledged not for the outcome, they’re being acknowledged for the effort.

Acknowledge people’s efforts.

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Kerwin Rae