The Art of Acknowledgment

Too many emails go by unanswered, too many voice mails and text messages do not get returned, but these aren’t the only areas where communication breaks down. You’ve probably had a friend stressed out about someone they like who didn’t get back to them in an amount of time they thought was reasonable, the result was most likely some form of irrational behavior. Maybe you laid all your marbles on the table to sign with one particular record label who never responds or perhaps interviewed for a job you really wanted who said they’d call you by the end of the month; what was that waiting like? Frustrating, right?

You know what would’ve helpAcknowledgmented all of those situations? That’s right, a simple acknowledgment. The single most important form of communication that’s often overlooked and untaught, yet most wanted by all of us. Did you know the number one reason, before money, why most people have a job is to feel acknowledged? We all want to know our contributions, our skill sets, our time and hard work has not only been received but is appreciated and valued.

Let’s take it a step further because acknowledgments are even missing from your day-to-day conversations with your best friends. Ever had a moment when you couldn’t wait to express the day you’ve had to your bestie, but after you unload they just immediately start into their day? That didn’t help you process your situation, and now you’ll just have to tell someone else hoping they will acknowledge you when all you needed was a simple “I hear you” or “Wow, that’s a crazy day” before they shared their own. I’ve witnessed this happen in every conversation I’m around lately – and I’m guilty of it too.

So, what is an acknowledgment? The dictionary provides two definitions:

1. acceptance of the truth or existence of something.
2. the action of expressing or displaying gratitude or appreciation for something.

I’d like to take it a step forward and say that an acknowledgement is something said or done to inform another that his/her statement or action has been noted, understood and received. It doesn’t have to imply an approval or disapproval, it simply has to end the communication cycle. After all, one thing must end before another one can begin. Sometimes all you needed to say was “OK” or “Thank you” or “I’m sorry to hear that.” When it comes to work, reply to your emails to let co-workers, clients and bosses know you’ve seen something, you’re on it and/or that it’s completed. And the biggest kicker of them all, when you’re dating, just be open & honest with your partner. If you’re not into someone, step up and say it. If you’re not going to call, don’t say you will. And if things are going well and you’re just busy, a quick “Will call you later, really swamped right now” works wonders; the silence does not.

Let’s all make a promise to make a conscious effort, starting right now, to work on the art of Acknowledgment. It’s a small step towards improving our societal communication problems, but one with big results. I thank you for taking the time to read this.