Complimenting work without adding pressure

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

I get asked, “Why aren’t you a Laurel yet?”
I know they mean well, but, at the same time it is frustrating. How should I handle questions like these?

A reply from the Minister:

We’ve probably all heard something like this at one time or another. We may have even asked it to other people ourselves.

Variations of this question include “If you lived in another Kingdom you’d already be a Laurel” and “Oh, I thought you were already a Laurel.” There’s a number of ways this can come up.

And, it could really be asked of a person about any kind of recognition.

So, there are two people here. And, I’d like to write to both of them. First, the person who gets asked this kind of question. Second, the person who asks these kinds of questions.

I remember getting asked these questions too and getting told these things. It *was* frustrating. I agree!

I didn’t have any control over the award system. There wasn’t an easy to follow checklist to know what I was missing. There wasn’t a list of people that I needed to convince to support me for elevation.

And these things are not changing. There will not be checklists or the like. They can get more transparent. And that’s what is happening. I know I figured things out more by talking to more people and having lots of discussions and learning.

But, back then, how was I supposed to know?

I knew they meant well. They were giving me a compliment. They thought that I was ready for recognition. That was nice!

It was also a reminding me that I hadn’t achieved my goal. Sometimes it felt like I was failing. Or that I wasn’t passing some test. In some ways it felt like a backhanded complement. On one hand they were telling me that I was deserving and on the other hand they were reminding me that I wasn’t. Like I said. Frustrating!

It sounds like a simple question. Yet, it is a complicated and difficult answer.

So, how would I reply?

Honestly and tactfully. That wasn’t always easy to do. And sometimes I was better at it than others.

I found a good reply to be “Thank you. I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Other replies could be:

  • “I’m on the path and looking forward to when it happens.”
  • “I’m still learning. There is more work I want to do in my field.”
  • “I’m getting to know the community and the job of being a peer.
  • “I’m not interested in being a peer. I know it is a job and my focus is other places.”
  • “I don’t know why so I’m still figuring that out myself.”

All of these things could work. And more. As long as you reply with positivity, honestly address to your circumstances, and stay tactful you’ll be fine.

Remember. They’re likely giving you a compliment. Be nice in return.

Now, to the people who feel tempted to ask these kinds of questions?

You likely really want to give your friend a compliment. So, do just that! Help them avoid the confusion and frustration and awkward reply. Don’t put them on the spot!

Here are some good examples of things to say:

  • “You’ve got a lot of talent!”
  • “You arts are beautiful! You have a great eye!”
  • “I’m totally impressed with your skill!”
  • “You’ve really improved over time.”
  • “I am so excited to see what you’ll be doing next!”

Basically? Say something with honesty. Make your complement with meaning.

You can stop there. Nicely done!

Remember? You just wanted to help your friend feel good.

So, stick with that complement.

Separately, you may want to *also* encourage your friend working towards a certain recognition. Why? Because receiving recognition can be fun and rewarding too. Accepting the responsibilities of peerage or another recognition can *also* be fun. You may want to help them with that.

To do that? Make it a conversation.

Learn more about that recognition. Talk to people holding that recognition already and ask them about their experiences. Share with your friend what you’ve learned and ask if you can help them along their path. Be a partner with them on their journey.

And, remember, you can also write them in for award recognition. Maybe that’s all that is missing!

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,


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