Acknowledgment from peers

Watching the Oscars last night was a joy. Not only was there a real feeling of collaboration in the air there was also evidence of fun and generosity.

Stars shared their space with others in a very comfortable manner, the nominated songs were melded together to create a unique piece and the staging of the whole event lent itself to the traditional boundary between audience and stage to be opened up. The set designers did a terrific job of making the whole event seem almost familial! It was reported that David Rockwell, this year’s set designer, was using the idea of a 1930’s cocktail lounge, a la Coconut Grove speakeasy and nightclub in Boston, for inspiration, where the band were brought up out of the pit and the audience were embraced within the surrounding entertainment. I have to say it worked for me, it changed the whole tone of what is often a rather stuffy affair.

For me the most special part of evening were the acknowledgements. Every year it is very hard to watch those actors and supporting actors who don’t win in their category, captured uncomfortably on camera, as their names are called for the nominations only to then ‘lose’ in the next second. This year was completely different. For each of these catagories five distinguished past winners took the stage together, which was quite a spectacle in its own right, and each of these actors gave a very personal acknowledgement to each of the nominees prior to announcing who was to receive the Oscar. It was very touching to watch during the acknowledgments, it genuinely communicated that each actor was already a winner just to be nominated. And when the Oscar recipient moved to the stage to accept their little weighty gold statue they each walked towards the open arms of the five past Oscar recipients on stage, joining this elite club of talented people. Genuine community was unfolding before us and we were able to witness something that seemed more significant and meaningful than in years past.

My inner coach also loved this because we use acknowledgements when working with our individual clients but I believe it is even more powerful when there is acknowledgment within groups. This works by asking for the group to acknowledge one person among them, telling that person all the things they appreciate about them and to tell them what they see in regard to natural talents or spirit. The job of the recipient is to say nothing, they can nod, smile and at the end say thank you but during the acknowledgement they are not to utter a word, which as you can imagine for most people is extremely hard. Receiving acknowledgement and compliments can be pretty overwhelming as sadly we are just not trained to take it, and yet this simple activity of being ‘seen’ by our family and peers can do wonders for our self esteem and growth.

Last night with a billion people watching the recipients what were the actors to do? They didn’t need instruction to not to say anything, they couldn’t, we did however see a little squirming and a lot of welling up as these talented people were ‘seen’ by their peers. It was probably the biggest act of generosity of the evening.

Who will you acknowledge this week?

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