Belonging sounds like telling someone how much you value them. We may believe that giving people too much positive feedback may make them feel an inflated sense of ego, they may slack off and think “I’m already good enough.” But we all want to feel valued, to feel seen for who we are and what we bring to a situation, a problem or project, an organization or a team. And this doesn’t mean handing out bland, generalized compliments to people – it means really paying attention (again, intentionally) to who each person is, their gifts and talents, what they have specifically and individually brought to the overall success of a project or the organization and to tell them that – concretely, specifically, and how and why their contribution is important. This could sound like: “Anita, thanks for the research you did for that project - it was really thorough and clearly presented so the client really understood the background of the issues, which contributed to their signing on with us!” Or, “Mary, the data analysis you did for the client was really helpful – your ability to convey the data and results in terms that they could understand led them to make some really good choices for moving forward.” It could sound like: “I really appreciated your speaking up in that meeting – it was good to hear your perspective and your insights helped move the team along to its next steps.” Traits such as warmth, humor, inclusiveness, tact, forthrightness, kindness, honesty, work ethic are all “fair game” to point out to someone as facets of them that are valuable to you and the organization. Being seen is not ego-tripping – it’s motivating to continue to bring one’s best to the game!
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