An expression of gratitude for an action or achievement

Dr. Albert Sabin

As part of a prime-time medical series for television called A Matter Of Life, producer David George and I filmed Dr. Sabin in his Washington, D.C. lab. An entire program was devoted to his development of the oral polio vaccine, which played a key role in nearly eradicating the disease worldwide. I offer this photograph to represent, acknowledge and appreciate the medical professionals, including researchers, suppliers and those who play a role in maintenance, support and ancillary services.  

Acknowledgement is an outward recognition that something favorable has been received. Whether spoken, written or offered as a gift, it’s an expression of gratitude and good feelings. In The Psychological Effects of Workplace Appreciation & Gratitude, O. C. Tanner says it triggers a brain boost. “The hypothalamus, which controls basic bodily functions such as eating and sleeping, and dopamine, the ‘reward neurotransmitter’ are heavily affected by feelings of gratitude. It can increase a person’s wellness, increase better sleep habits, increase metabolism and lessen stress. The greatest psychological effect of appreciation and gratitude is the happiness and other emotions immediately felt whether we’re giving or benefiting from it.”

An article in Changing Minds describes our need for acknowledgement. “When people acknowledge us, even briefly, we feel a connection with them. This is a step towards bonding and the joining of identities.” According to a study in Congruence: Aligning your people with your business objectives, “The benefit of acknowledgement is letting the receiver know that you’ve heard them or received their communication.” 

In a study reported in Psychology Today, Why You Need To Be Seen: The critical role of acknowledgement in maintaining our motivation, Dr. Craig Dowden found that those in the “acknowledged” group persevered significantly longer and completed a third more of the tasks than those in the control group. “Taking the time to acknowledge the work of the people around us can positively impact their level of motivation. Creating a culture of ‘paying it forward’ may spur a mutually reinforcing cycle of motivation, which can drive us to reach new heights and persevere, especially in challenging times. Paying attention to the work and efforts of our colleagues not only provides us with much-needed human connection, it can also heighten their motivation and perseverance.”

In her book, The Power of Acknowledgement, author Judith W. Umlas provides even more reasons to acknowledge those we know and don’t know. It “builds intimacy and creates powerful interactions, neutralizes, defuses, deactivates and reduces the effect of jealousy and envy, leads to high energy and high-quality performance, sometimes makes a profound difference in a person’s life and work and can improve the emotional and physical health of both the giver and receiver.” 

I’m reminded of a luncheon I attended at the headquarters of a large corporation. Waiting in the lobby for Heather, my host, I read their impressive statement of mission and values. I was introduced to the CEO and other officers. Professional dress at every level. Personable and professional interactions. Luxurious facilities. The details of the meeting are lost in memory now, except for an incident I will never forget.

After lunch, Heather led me to a place where we dropped off our food trays. Behind a little window, an older woman wearing a hairnet and apron busily took the trays as we slid them to her so she could clean and move them onto a conveyor belt headed for the dishwashing area. Heather and I were talking but she stopped. “Excuse me David,” she said. She turned and set her tray down, but held onto it so the woman couldn’t take it. Hello!” Heather said, holding the woman’s gaze. “I just want you to know how much I appreciate what you do here.” Heather said something else, but I didn’t hear it. A line was forming in back of me. Moving on, I asked if she knew that woman. She didn’t. “I think it’s important to acknowledge people for what they do,” she said. I asked if other employees did that. “Probably not,” she said. “But I have to.”

Indeed. Acknowledgement. Heather probably made that woman’s day. Certainly, she made mine. And the best part, her kind words left such an impression that I have ever since wanted to emulate that simple gesture. And so the photograph of Dr. Sabin calls me to acknowledge and appreciate the hard working, out-of-the-spotlight people at every level who keep the medical field humming—frantically buzzing these days considering the pandemic. THANK YOU!


We’re in a country that acknowledges only those who stand on the victory podium, but some of my heroes come in last. — Bud Greenspan, producer of sports documentaries, notably the Olympic Games


Each time I practice the power of acknowledgement I’ve given the other person a priceless gift — the gift of dignity and self-worth. — Elizabeth Kearney, author, People Power: Reading people for results.




Photography Monographs. The pages can be turned in each book.

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