“You deserve” as in you deserve to be rewarded? Or you deserve a good life. We hear it all the time and I wondered if you have thought about the meaning of the word? The dictionary definition is:  

To be worthy of, to be entitled to, to have a right to, have a claim on, 

When you say, “you deserve” you are making a judgment, and judgments (or diagnosis) disconnect us. If you judge someone as being deserving, you are working in a power over paradigm. As I said in one of my last blogs, judgments can be very destructive and in the case of the word “deserve” you have singled out someone as special. There is a sense of control from a more powerful person or group. You are passing judgment on them.

So you might ask – how can I acknowledge that something someone did or said pleased me or made me happy without telling them that they deserve to be rewarded?

I suggest we use words that convey the need that has been met. For example, you might say, “I appreciate all the work you put into the project and I recognize that you met the deadline.  Congratulations on your work”. There is nothing wrong with offering the person in question a gift as a way to express your appreciation. Just be careful of saying you deserve this! Needs connect us, so language like “I am grateful for” and “thank you for” connect on a “power with” basis.

I run a small company and I enjoy organizing a get together with my supervisors to thanks them for their work and to listen to their experiences. We celebrate the achievements of the team by having a meal together. Celebrating achievements is an important way to recognize our community.

I will often thank an individual by sending flowers or a gift. It is a way to acknowledge how grateful I am for their hard work and loyalty to the company. But I am careful not to say “you deserve”.