Thursday, April 20, 2017

Professional Development

A New Kind of Training – Get Your Black Belt in Affirmation Part 4: Craftsmanship

Continuing our focus on highly skillful affirmation in the workplace, today we consider the second dynamic we need to be ready to harness if we are going to be black belts in affirmation in the workplace: craftsmanship.

If you’d first like to check out the Affirmation articles leading up to this one, follow these links:

Get Your Black Belt in Affirmation Part 1 – Intro

Get Your Black Belt in Affirmation Part 2 – The Spectrum of Impact

Get Your Black Belt in Affirmation Part 3 – Repetition

To start, let’s see if these three sandwiches can help us see something about the nature of skillful craftsmanship in workplace affirmation:


The first thing these sandwiches can help us see about this dynamic is that it’s about how much effort you put into crafting WHAT you’re going to say and HOW you’re going to say it. And if the range of craftsmanship in sandwich-making is large, the range of craftsmanship one can employ for expressing affirmation is utterly enormous.

Consider this: on the low end, a quick and simple, peanut-butter-jelly-style “Thanks!” can be given as affirmation if you poke your head in someone’s office, ask them a question, and they give you a helpful answer to your question. On the somewhat high end, you could go mile-high-club-sandwich-with-avocado-style and wrap up a project with a client by sending them an email with several sentences of really intentional affirmation about how much you enjoyed the project, enjoyed working with them, how that one girl did the one thing that one time that was so awesome, etc. Something like that really takes intentionality and craftsmanship!

The second thing these sandwiches can teach us about craftsmanship in affirmation is that high craftsmanship in no way = good, and low craftsmanship in no way = bad. People, sometimes PBJs are delicious, especially to my friend who eats his with hot sauce. And, people, sometimes those avocado sandwiches are just a little overblown and not worth the effort!

So when it comes to the dynamic of high or low craftsmanship in affirmation, we are not making a good vs. bad dichotomy whatsoever. Some situations make quick, off-the-cuff, low-craftsmanship affirmation entirely appropriate, and responding with high craftsmanship could be odd and awkward. And some situations really merit a higher level of craftsmanship in how we respond affirmingly.

The important thing is this: be a person who 1) comprehends that a range of craftsmanship is available any time you choose to affirm someone, and be a person who 2) can choose how much craftsmanship you can put into your affirmation with coworkers and clients. Do what you need to do to get to where you can skillfully, comfortably affirm someone with high craftsmanship and intentionality if you so choose. You can practice and cultivate this ability as you would any of your other areas of professional expertise. That’s what this whole blog series is about, after all!

So with these simple ideas in place, let’s make some sandwiches. In the last article, we concluded with six examples of how we might see a legitimate need for repetition of affirmation play out in the workplace. Let’s stick with those same six examples and further develop them to exhibit the dynamic of craftsmanship. See if you can spot how craftsmanship is being utilized in these highly skillful scenarios:

So there you go! Craftsmanship. Do you have any real-life situations in your workplace that might benefit from some stepped-up, higher-craftsmanship affirmation? If so, you know what to do, comrade. Train like your career depended on it! See you here again in two weeks when we talk about our third and final dynamic of skillful affirmation in the workplace.



Todd Steen
Kristie GraySmith
Jackson offices