January 14, 2014
I am very big on written recommendations and testimonials. Notes of praise contain various uses. For instance, you might direct a note to a person who outperforms on her job. Or one might want to get in touch with an old manager acknowledging true mentorship or a career of achievement. A brief note of congratulations or a simple THANK YOU never hurt anyone. There’s still something to be said about documenting praise—email, handwritten on personal stationery, a telegram (did I just write that?), or on a social media site. A private acknowledgment to someone 1:1 can be just as powerful as a public act of gratitude. Even more impactful is rewarding an over achiever by notifying that person’s superior. When all is said and done, praising someone never gets old, for the Recipient or the Giver. It helps when you have the facts and make it concise. Be aware that your credits must be sincere. The act of praise becomes transforming when you’re not seeking anything in return and when the person least expects it. If possible, make it a surprise.

In LinkedIn jargon, the “praise section” of someone’s profile has withered away from a custom and personal “Recommendation” to those practically useless “Endorsements for Skills and Expertise”. When I played high school football, I indeed loved the reward of a “paw” decal (we were the Cougars) to be proudly placed on my helmet. On the college gridiron, I always think of the Ohio State Buckeyes and the buckeye leaves glittering those helmets we see on TV. It was never in the acceptance of that paw that got my juices flowing. Rather it was that 10-15 second anecdote Coach shared with the team explaining exactly why I was so deserving of that tiny paw. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for those endorsements (and I dole them out as equally as I get them). They do look cool like the Buckeyes helmets and it is social media at its best. Far be it from me to be the party pooper. I do go along for the ride but, let’s face it, this is not a thought-provoking exercise. I believe writing a 3-5 descriptive sentence on behalf of a deserving citizen is much more effective and enduring.

I totally enjoy writing recommendations for others. From a selfish perspective, it keeps my writing skills (outside of emails) sharp and intact. And we blame our children for not writing (well) enough?

Praising another human being, in writing, is an extremely gratifying act. You’ll see just how fast people accept them and post them on their page.

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