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Three reasons why we all need and crave recognition

There’s no denying that we’re all different. But just like DNA, which is actually 99% the same between all humans, there is also much that we have in common. One such area has to do with recognition and appreciation, which is something that we all need and crave no matter who we are, where we live, what role we perform, and how we work.

Some of you may not believe this to be true, that surely there are people who do not need and certainly do not crave recognition. To this, let me challenge you as you read through this blog to find a person where at least one of the reasons does not apply. For although they may not all tick everyone’s box, I firmly believe that there’s something for everyone through recognition and appreciation when it’s done well.

So without further ado, here are three things that recognition and appreciation can do, and thus why we all need and crave it:

1. It makes us happy There are chemicals in our brain that play a role in when and how we experience happiness, for when they’re released, they trigger feelings that drive our happiness. They impact our mood as well as our feelings of satisfaction, importance and connection, all important to our physical and emotional wellbeing. Science has found that three of these chemicals (dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) are released when we’re recognized, and feel appreciated. And better yet, this chemical release “cements the knowledge that more of that behavior will create more praise, resulting in another chemical drench”.

On the flip side, the dark side, when the expected recognition does not happen, chemical levels drop, which can lead to employees avoiding thankless tasks and putting in less effort. To illustrate this, here’s a photo I often share when talking about the impact of demotivated and disengaged employees, showing how the employee cares so little about the task that they can’t be bothered to move the stick out of the road!

2. It satisfies our needs

The next reason relates to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which I’m sure you’re familiar with as it’s been around since 1943. As the model shows, once we get past the first two levels of needs, physiological and safety, we move onto ones such as love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

Recognition has an important role to play in satisfying all of these needs as it contributes to a sense of belonging, helps us feel more respected and confident, and helps us be the best we can be. And as the hierarchy and model show, these are important to fulfil in order to not just survive but to be fully motivated. 3. It helps us perform at our best And finally, recognition can help our people and businesses perform at their best as it ignites a long list of superpowers, turning our people into superheroes. As you’ll see below, the list is quite extensive both in what they are and the difference and impact they can make. I’ll explain them all in detail in another blog, but at a high level, here are the 10 areas where recognition and appreciation can deliver power to your people and company:

  1. More engaged

  2. Better sense of belonging

  3. Happier

  4. Better overall wellbeing

  5. Less burned out

  6. More trusting

  7. Better sense of awareness

  8. More productive

  9. Stronger business results

  10. Better employee retention

I hope that this blog has been helpful in highlighting the reasons that recognition and appreciation are so important. Please do use it if and when you work with people who don’t believe in, and thus action it, helping them understand why it’s so needed and craved around the world. All the best!


If you're interested in reading my books on recognition and appreciation, they are:


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