Bravery in the face of Compliments

One thing that struck me as unique about Student Learning and Transitions when I first started working here was the culture of recognition that existed amongst the team. As part of my training, I was told that each month we were encouraged to fill out an anonymous Google Form recognizing a teammate for one or more of the following: going above and beyond, spreading positivity, helping a teammate, demonstrating balance, taking responsibility, or bringing value to the team. To maintain anonymity, the responses would be viewed only by the department Manager and sent out via email by the Manager directly to the staff member being recognized once a month.

I remember when my first ever shout-out arrived in my inbox. It brought a smile to my face, boosted my morale, and helped me to confirm that I was on the right track with the work I was doing.

I’ve got to admit, though, it was also hard to digest.

When I reflect on that, I think about my parents. Both my mother and father are endlessly hardworking people. They raised me to be hardworking like them, and to give my all in everything that I do. But this was sort of just considered a default mode in our household. It was a characteristic that we all embodied that often went without recognition. Like being a Fraser was synonymous with being hard working, and it was, therefore, a no-brainer any time one of us ever worked hard at something.

On top of this, growing up, my family wasn’t the best at accepting compliments, no matter how well deserved. So this modeled for me the various ways in which one could artfully dodge a compliment, diminish its value, and avoid letting it sink in.

There was also a certain bias against accepting compliments that was embedded in my social culture growing up. Like if I were to accept recognition, Regina George might appear out of nowhere to point out my vanity.

But all of this is just to say that it’s been a long process of re-education for me to be able to acknowledge areas of strength within myself, without diminishing or avoiding. So, when I found that in this role recognition was a regular part of what we did, it took a while to adjust.

In time, I’ve come to realize both how important a well deserved pat on the back can be, and how much of a difference we can make in the lives of others simply by taking the time our of our days to intentionally recognize a colleague.

This kind of recognition isn’t widespread enough. I am very proud to be part of a team that leads the way in this regard, and I hope to see this culture spread further to other departments within this institution and organizations within our community.

You can help! Know someone who deserves recognition? Leave an anonymous note in their inter-department mailbox, send them a quick email, drop by to talk to them, or speak to your manager/boss about starting your own monthly-shout-out process.