How often do we express regard for others? Whether we are in an official leadership role or not, it is so important to thank our colleagues from time to time. We all value being valued. What we do matters, and it is especially validating when our efforts are recognized by others. For this reason, I love Kegan and Lahey’s idea of expression of “ongoing regard” that they encourage in the workplace.
Here are the important elements of the “ongoing regard” process that help the experience be more powerful. 1. First, speak directly to the person telling them what it is that you regard. This can also be done in front of a group but keep it direct to the individual. 2. Next, be specific about the behavior or result of behavior that you appreciate. 3. Third, be nonattributive. In other words, do not characterize the person’s qualities in any certain way just share your experience of the person. Here’s an example that could be spoken directly: “… Thanks Jess, I see you consistently supporting the team by typing meeting minutes which is so valuable because it keeps us on track and helps us remember important details.” (Not: Thanks, you are such a great note taker, you must love typing notes.)
The words spoken in this way can create a personal, intimate moment. It might feel a little awkward the first time you do it. But the result can be transforming for you and the receivers of your regard. Keep practicing – be direct, specific and nonattributive. Then give yourself some sincere regard for this new behavior that you are working to develop.
(2001) Kegan R. and Lahey L, How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work