Crucial Skills®

A Blog by Crucial Learning

SDI Assessment

Recognition in Relationships

Hero. It’s the most fitting description for first responders, members of the military, and now, healthcare providers who have sacrificed so much to care for so a well-timed and well-crafted statement of appreciation is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve a relationship. In our relationships, being recognized (for the things we want to be recognized for) gives us a sense of connection with other people. It helps us feel understood and valued.

But have you ever been a recipient of a “compliment” that missed the mark? Or perhaps you’ve been surprised when your well-intended expression of gratitude back-fired? The problem is that we can get caught up saying things how we want to hear them, instead of really thinking about how other people want to hear them.

If you factor in people’s underlying motives – their Motivational Value System (MVS) – when you craft compliments or statements of recognition, your statements are more likely to have the intended positive effect. People’s motives drive their behavior and influence their decisions about the outcomes that are most valuable to them. If you know someone has a Blue MVS and wants to help, you also know that seeing another person’s needs met is evidence of being helpful. So how do you say ‘thank you’? Clearly, we need to describe the help that was received and the positive effect it had on the person who was helped. This is more than a simple thank-you because it connects to the Blue motive by showing how the motive to help was fulfilled and how it affected other people.

Here are some general ideas about recognition for each of the seven MVS types described by the SDI 2.0:


They like to feel that they are needed and appreciated. They need to know that the help they provided was genuinely useful to another person and made a positive difference in their life.


They like to be recognized for their ability to see what needs to be done, and to actually get those things done. They need to know that their accomplishments were part of something bigger and contributed to a higher-level goal.


They like to be respected for their expertise, reliability, and judgment. They need to know that any structure, process, or system they created is efficient and effective – or that it clarifies things or saves time for others.


They like to be known for their compassion and their ability to improve people’s lives through action, advice, or mentoring relationships. They need to know that other people have been able to develop and improve.


They like to be valued for their strategic skills and their ability to turn complex problems into actionable insight. They need to know that results were accomplished according to a well thought out plan.


They like to be appreciated for their self-reliance and for maintaining environments in which others are able to grow and act independently. They need to know that other people have developed the skills to help themselves.


They like to be known for their flexibility and being able to respond appropriately to whatever the situation calls for. They need to know that their collaboration promoted openness to ideas that produced a better result for everyone involved.

The key to crafting recognition statements that feel truly rewarding is to consider your audience. What motivated them to do the thing that you appreciate? Be specific, and try to speak in a way that shows you understand their core motives.

So go ahead. Make someone’s day!