Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

How to write an amazing Linkedin Recommendation, or give appreciation

Some people have a hard time with words.

They struggle to say what is in their hearts.

Sometimes they even struggle to find what is in their hearts.

This can be a real problem when it comes to giving appreciation. Acknowledging someone for something is a special moment, and how well you handle it can fall flat and underwhelm, or deeply enrich the relationship.

Today, I’m going to give you a framework for appreciation that can be applied to Linkedin recommendations, letters of appreciation, or even shout-outs at weekly standup meetings.

Thanks for being here and going through this with me. If we had more people who cared enough to do this the right way, we might have a chance at making our work satisfying and meaningful.

I appreciate you.

NOTE: Today’s post is different from constructive feedback, critical feedback, or coaching.
Find those posts here:
🔗 How to make a better feedback sandwich
🔗 How to give better critical feedback
🔗 Coaching Feedback

Where to start

man holding his head while sitting on chair near computer desk
Guy sitting at his desk — thinking about what to write.

I believe there are two foundational elements to giving impactful recommendations and showing meaningful appreciation. Before you start writing anything or preparing to say anything, make sure you’re clear about these two things.

  1. Be able to highlight the thing that is MOST important to the person you are appreciating or recommending
  2. Be sure to tailor your feedback primary to things about the person rather than their work or outcomes.

No matter how vast your vocabulary, or poignant your observations, if you do not hit these two factors, the appreciation will fail to land with as much weight as it could.

I’ll briefly explain.

1. The Most Important Thing

I remember early in my career, I had developed a reputation for being high energy and passionate. In fact, those factors were so present, that many people who recommended me or acknowledged me, were so swept up in the obvious that they neglected to highlight that I was also really smart, business savvy, and adept at strategy.

That is until Amy Larrimore asked me a very unorthodox question, that I will never forget.

Before I write this recommendation, is there anything that you would like me to focus on?

What followed was the first, of now many, recommendations that I have highlighting my ability to solve problems and develop effective strategies:

I wasn’t ashamed of being high energy and passionate, but what I really wanted people to know was how hard I worked at my craft. To this day, I still follow in Amy’s foot steps and ask people if there is anything they would like me to highlight or focus on.

This is useful when giving a Linkedin recommendation. However, as a leader or manager giving praise in a note or standup, it’s important that you’ve done the work in advance either through one-on-one meetings or other less formal conversations to understand each person’s goals. If you know who people seek to be, you should tailor your appreciation and acknowledgement to help them along that journey.

2. The Person > The Work

Midjourney Prompt: an assembly line of people with no faces

When we acknowledge people’s work, instead of the person, we send a subtle message that their output is what matters. Therefore, if someone else could produce the same output, then the feedback would be transferable to another person, and thus the compliment becomes a substitute for the phrase: “you’re replaceable.”

If, instead, we acknowledge a person and how they show up as a unique individual, we are taking the time to give appreciation to something deeply touches that person’s sense of identity.

  • When we acknowledge their patience, we may be honoring their role as a parent or caregiver.
  • When we point out their kindness, we may be honoring the influence of their parents, or the difficulty of choosing kindness in the moments where they could just react out of anger or frustration.
  • When we call out someone’s resilience or tenacity, we may be honoring a skill they’ve developed by enduring all manner of trauma.

For as much as work may shape our identity, when people are asked to talk about themselves, they rarely say things like “I’m the type of person who closed 3 new clients 2 weeks ago.”

Our identities are a collection of attributes, both positive and negative, that we use to understand ourselves. When someone points out something that amplifies one of the attributes we’re most proud of, or praises us for something we thought represented a weakness, it is far more meaningful than pointing to a singular achievement.

Almost all of us, want to be appreciated for the part of ourselves that led to that achievement instead of the achievement itself. An achievement is a singular event where an attribute is ongoing.

Writing the recommendation (Template)

Whenever I write a recommendation, it tends to contain the following elements, and often in this order.

  1. Context for how I know the person.
  2. First impressions or frequently mentioned, well established traits.
  3. Specific — but often unacknowledged — thing I’ve noticed.
  4. The one MOST important thing.
  5. A few more skills or attributes worth appreciating.
  6. A reason for recommending.

I’ll now give you an example by writing a recommendation that I’ve been meaning to write for my friend Parchelle Tashi.

Before I write it, here’s the brief context (for you, my reader) of how I know Parchelle. I’ve known Parchelle for almost a decade. I know that over the last few years, she has transitioned from general video production into a niche of helping Authors to turn their books into online courses. Therefore, this recommendation should really highlight my perspective as an author on her creative process, the ease of working with her, and the quality of her work.

Recommendation for Parchelle Tashi

I’ve known Parchelle for many years and over that time our relationship has taken so many forms.

I’ve consulted her, she’s consulted me, we’ve coached each other, we’ve collaborated on projects, and we helped each other change directions in our respective businesses. Parchelle is one of my most trusted allies in business, pushing me to be more creative and serving as a catalyst for me to level up the quality of my work. For example, if you’ve ever seen me on video and think I look incredible, Parchelle Tashi is the reason why.

If you know Parchelle, then you already know she’s creative and easy to work with but there are two enduring traits that stand out for me as to what makes her so special.

👉 1. Parchelle is humble and curious.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Parchelle come into a situation stubbornly holding onto a solution. Instead, she is interested and curious. This combined with her gentle, warm and easy demeanor creates the kind of environment for true collaboration and creativity. It’s safe, and it’s Parchelle’s way of being that makes it possible to find the best solution.

👉 2. Parchelle is an educator at heart.
Parchelle has a background in education and even though you might not learn that until after a few meetings, you’ll always notice the spirit of an educator. She is always looking to help you. She is always looking to learn for herself. She is comfortable exploring new bodies of knowledge and can quickly see the curriculum you need. As an author and speaker myself, I have experienced Parchelle’s educator mindset as she helped me to clarify my message, and create a curriculum within my talks that hit my most important points.

For all of the people out there who fit into some sort of mold, Parchelle in my experience defies labeling and instead is just someone easy to work with, incredibly creative, and committed to producing something extraordinary. I love working with Parchelle and I’m glad to have her in my inner circle.

Always be honest

Every single word I wrote above is 100% true.

Regardless of what someone asks you to focus on, or how badly you want to impress someone, always write words you would stand behind.

Now, go out there and write a recommendation for someone, write an email or handwritten note, or be ready at the next stand up to say something meaningful to someone on your team.

Thanks for being here, I’m glad you’re one of my readers.

Show CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment