Be the First to Applaud

The presenter highlights a broad group of award winners, mentioning his appreciation of their hard work. The audience, approximately 8,000 people strong, is silent for a second. But then, as the presenter takes a breath, about to speak again, a clap is heard from stage-right. Applause then quickly rises from stage right and rolls through the back of the giant auditorium in rapid succession.

Hands Clapping - Stop Motion Version

The presenter setup the recognition, an unknown person close to the stage  decided broader recognition was needed and soon, several thousand agreed, applauding in unison. It took only two people to grab applause from thousands for the team. We are rarely the presenter, but that should not prevent us from playing a key role in the recognition.

We often fail to start the applause because:

1. Familiarity: We don’t specifically know the person or team to be recognized

2. Timing: We’re not sure the timing is right for the applause

3. Stand Out: We’re afraid to stand out from the crowd

 But what is the real risk, here? In a crowd, applause requires:

1. Identification: The speaker or initiator identifies cause for a celebration

2. First Applauder: Someone must determine that the identified recognition deserves praise by being the first to clap – this is where anyone can play a key role

3. Followers: After one starts, more applaud with ease

This logic does not require a formal speaker or large audience. Instead, all it takes is the first person to identify the event worthy of praise and a second to initiate the applause. Don’t be afraid. If you hear a praise, be the first to applaud the effort. You will find the action contagious. Like the person in the crowd above, your initial applause may lead to thousands applauding.

Question: What’s keeping you from applauding?


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

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