Acknowledgment: This blog is written from a skype interview that Rituu B. Nanda conducted on the Author

Both the words Acknowledgment and Recognition, appear at the first sight to be the same. However, there is a small difference. Acknowledgment, we use, as when I am writing a book, I say, I acknowledge R's work in editing, rewriting, and so on. Here the main work is mine, and I acknowledge the inputs of another person called R, who is helping my work.

Whereas for Recognition, the main work is done by the person I am appreciating. Consider the example, “I recognize R for her excellent culinary skills. My appreciation is so much; I would do anything to be invited to a meal she has done!”

The question that arises in the context of a community is, who is the giver and who is the receiver? Again if we take the example of giving an award to R, the community is all the others who are her co-workers and who could also have competed for the given award.

When we give Awards as a token of acknowledgment and Recognition to Community Leaders, Peer Educators and others who have worked singularly well, and earned their Community's recognition, it works mainly in three ways. They are:

1) Effect on Receiver: "As one lamp lights another nor grows less, So does nobleness en-kindle nobleness." Similarly, Awards and Recognition motivate the receiver to work for greater heights of achievement. The consequent effect could be like in the flowchart:

Recognition ---> increased Motivation ----> Better performance ---> Enthuses other Peers to perform better ----> Increased Peer Recognition ----> Higher self esteem -----> More confident in approach ----> Higher achievement ------> Better performance of self and team...

2) Effect on Giver: Like Shakespeare said of the quality of mercy, we can say the same for Award and Recognition, namely, "It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes." I will delve into my past to highlight this point better. Some time ago, I was in the medical services of a large Tea growing Company. Here we often had to judge in our Hospital, which was the best ward, who was the best nurse, best doctor, best ward boy and so on. Then, I remember, the tougher job was for the one who gives, for he has to make a good judgment, which can be difficult if there are many achievers. In addition, if the community is a close one, the giver can always be accused of bias. Moreover, many of us have also done performance appraisals, where as the appraiser it has been a soul-searching experience to walk the tightrope of judgment. The Effect Flowchart could be:

Giver Excercises good judgement ----> The practice of good work ethics ----> Increases Confidence in decision making ------> Gives more credibility to Giver's authority ------> earns more respect ------> Colleagues and friends tend to trust the Giver and often ask advice -----> Team gels well ----> Team works better ----> High performance of team...

3) Effect on Community: When we recognize some good qualities of a person and publicly broadcast it, we learn ways of making others happy. Consequently, my experience has been that the happier people are, they are more motivated, more creative, more wanting to bond and trust. The emphasis is on the "trust" part which is so much required for building successful and working communities Therefore, the most important effect of recognition is that it builds trust, which is the steel in the concrete relationships within a Community. The Flow chart for this effect could be:

Community feels that good work is recognized ----> Others who have better talents or better ideas on the same work feel that they will also be similarly rewarded -------> Better strategies become known and are tried out ----> Better ideas and plans get better prospects and performance -----> Better ideas also get recognition ----> which increases credibility and trust too.

The Action Points could be:
1) Giver of Awards or Recognition - must be correct in judgment, explicit for what the award is given, and also if some one is expecting and not eligible, can be told how close they were to getting the award, and what made them loose out. So, Giver - must be able to infuse trust by correct judgment, an unbiased approach, high credibility, and thus increase team or community performance.
2) Receiver - can highlight how he found out the strategy or plan for which he was recognized, succes story mostly. May have lessons learnt, if failures were overcome.
3) Community - must focus on transfer of strategy from receiver to implementing by all - for this trust in the giver must be there.


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Comment by Onesmus Mutuku on September 23, 2009 at 3:16pm
Hey all!
My experience on Acknowledgement is drawn from my Uncles life and HIV experience.

The acknowledgement within the self was facilitated by the practice of care by presence as opposed to provision of materials. He truly grew very open to the Wife, brothers, sisters, neighbors and the Church. They frequently visited him and he remained very hopeful in his life.
The environment;
We as a family, were so involved. I remember, we all knew that our uncle needed to go for his CD4 Count and ARV every month from a clinic that was 70Km away from home.We had to provide money for his bus fare and CD4 count.
My small cousins would go fetch firewood and water for him and the wife.

When the wife gave birth, she said to the team that she wanted to take the small boy for HIV test,Which she later did.

In his journey with Kithituni SALT team, he asked to be trained to become part of the SALT team.

His experience is also captured in a book called 'More than eyes can see.' Writen by Rhidian Brook from BBC.
Can be found at

Thanks Friends

Comment by Sanghamitra Iyengar on August 23, 2009 at 7:04pm
This has indeed been an interesting discussion. Thanks, Rafique for having started it! In a way recognition almost precedes it. I recognise it ( this is the intellectual process) as an issue, then, I acknowledge it ( this is in a way an action on my part) In Kannada we have also looked at it as acknowledgement and acceptance of the issue.
Comment by Laurence Gilliot on August 21, 2009 at 3:50pm
Interesting Phil...

In french we say "Reconnaissance et acceptation" which means more like "acknowledgement and acceptance".
In a way that goes a bit deeper as you can acknowledge that you have an issue but not accept it... not?

Comment by Phil on August 21, 2009 at 12:39pm
This post began with Rafique trying to understand the distinction between Acknowledgement and Recognition. The thread has gone in such an interesting direction that I am reluctant to return to this part of the discussion.

But the issue raised by Rafique has been puzzling me all week.

What is the distinction between Acknowledgement and Recognition?
Is it necessary for us to have the 2 words in the practice?
What does it add to have the 2 words in the practice?
When we make the translations of the Self Assessment into other languages, do we preserve the subtlety that is escaping me?

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on August 20, 2009 at 10:55pm
Dear Geoff, Gaston and Rafique,

Thanks for this wonderful sharing. A great learning opportunity for me.

Comment by Gaston on August 20, 2009 at 2:52pm
thanks Rafique. I had similar impressions during the SALT visits. Well phrased and useful to share.

Comment by Geoff Parcell on August 18, 2009 at 4:11pm
Thanks for sharing Rafique and Gaston, in such a powerful way! Your personal experiences bring home the risk to each of us and we can no longer deny it cannot affect us.

Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on August 18, 2009 at 3:54pm
Dear Geoff and Gaston,

Thank you all, for bringing me back on track,

My moment of acknowledgment 'that AIDS is an issue for me and me family, or my neighbourhood', and friends, was when a friend's wife underwent a Caesarean section for her delivery. She was was transfused blood, as an emergency. Only when her husband became HIV positive, did the Company in which, we both were working, realized how everyone was susceptible, even though we may take all precautions, to prevent transmission of HIV.

The route of transmission being tested blood, which had been donated voluntarily, but in the window period, made us realize and acknowledge that anyone of us could have a condition, disease, accident, or surgery, that necessitates blood transfusion, making the recipient vulnerable, despite all known precautions.

This incident happened early in the history of HIV in India. Consequently, the Management of our Company acknowledged this personal risk, and so, the Management were willing to allow Workplace Interventions in HIV, not only for the whole workforce, but also for the dependents and other family members of the employees. Thus, history states that this large agro-based company with a workforce of around fifty thousand and a total population of around two hundred thousand, became the first one in the plantation sector to implement Workplace policies and programs on HIV, in the country.

Later, whenever I used to train the Company's 'Link Workers' on various aspects of HIV, some would state that those who take precautions against sexual transmission of HIV can never be infected. I would then counter this statement by stating that I could meet with an accident, and be transfused with blood in the window period, and thus be infected with HIV, subsequently.

During my visit to Thailand in 2007 for the SALT visits, I noticed that once members in the community had acknowledged that it was their previous lifestyle - one of increasing consumption with consequent increasing economic needs was changed to one of lesser needs, they found that they had no need to send their daughters to earn from sex work. The effect this had on the villages was that where there were scores of bars, the same area hardly sported one.

Also, years later, the same Thai community could easily stand their ground and say to a politician that the community would decide about whether or how it would participate in the polls. This community empowerment all began, because of the collective acknowledgment of how the community previously was increasing its own vulnerability to HIV. Only if we acknowledge the risks can we reduce the vulnerability.

Hope these are the experiences that are more in line with the topic, and if so, looking forward to more such experiences,

Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on August 18, 2009 at 12:42pm
Dear Vandana,

Please accept my thanks for your encouragement. As you say, we must concentrate on these little communications, with one and all, appreciating them, just because communicating our appreciation has so much positive effect on the outcome of the response by the community. For, appreciation is the key to getting a faster, and stronger response from the community.

Comment by Gaston on August 17, 2009 at 6:00pm
Hi Rafique,

It's interesting what you posted. I do agree with Geoff on the interpretation of this first practice: Acknowledgement and recognition. For me, it's the first step of taking ownership - and therefore of change.

In my case, it was when a friend of mine shared that he was seeing a girlfriend for a while. He didn't know much about her past, but they didn't use any protection. It turned out he got a STI and some nasty symptoms. During some indepth discussions, we both acknowledged and recognized that it could have been AIDS as well. And that I also wasn't always that disciplined. That was the tipping point where I went beyond level 1 on this practice.

Another example is Global Warming. Many inspiring -spiritual- leaders as well as scientist say that the first step we really need to take is: ADMIT THAT IT CAN HAPPEN. We have to acknowledge and deeply recognize that this civilization can die if we continue like this. So not read the news headline as usual about Greenland and continue our breakfast as usual. For me this is not complete acknowledgement and recognition of the issue. It has to reach a deeper level of ownership to result in behavioural change.

Your posting is highly interesting in how it analyses the power of appreciation and maybe even SALT. I recognize the causal relationships you mention in certain community immersions. I think it's part of the way of working and why we are doing it that way.

I shared this weekend with the wife of my brother who is a psychiatrist for children who are depressed or mentally disadvantaged. In her way of working -and academic literature confirms this is what really works-, she uses a lot of appreciation and 'levels of competence' very similar to our self-assessment. She expressed the need to encourage, think positive, appreciate small progress, focus on ownership, accompaniment, all of it. It was fascinating and confirming the work we are doing.

Thanks for making the relationship between appreciation and development clearer.



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