The Power of “AHA”

The Power of “AHA”

The Power of “AHA”

“X has just mentioned me positively in a post. Should I respond? If so, how should I respond?”

I have been asked this (or similar) a number of times and my answer is always “Yes, you should respond. It is good manners and a great way to consolidate your relationship with X, in their eyes and the eyes of others.”

It is also a very human thing to do for someone who has felt the wish to and taken the time to say something nice about you!

So the question is how to respond? I have helped craft a number of responses, but realised recently that they all shared a similar approach; something I remember using the mnemonic “AHA”.

Here it is:

A – the first “A” stands for acknowledge/appreciate. By this, I mean open with something like:-

  • Thank you for your kind words; or

  • I appreciate the recommendation; or

  • I am so pleased you should think so.

Use whatever phrasing makes sense in the context of what was written and that you feel comfortable with, but I hope you understand the intent.

H – The “H” stands for hear (what was said). In this part, you demonstrate that you really read/heard what person X said in the post. To do this pick some aspect of what was written and either respond directly to or maybe mirror (ie repeat back) their words.

  • If they said how nice it was to meet you then you could reflect that you too enjoyed the conversation.

  • If they commented on you being helpful you could say that you were happy to be of value or maybe that your insights provided clarity.

  • If they gave a recommendation about you (to others) then you might comment on how valuable personal recommendations are.

Again, use whatever phrasing makes sense in the context of what was written and that you feel comfortable with, but I hope you understand the intent.

A – The second “A” is for alignment. This is an opportunity to show the author and any readers how you fit with X’s values/purpose/beliefs/etc.

Here you could say something like

  • how much you hope to contribute further to such a worthy endeavour; or

  • maybe about how you are taking forward something you learnt from the encounter; or

  • maybe make a sincere recommendation of X to any reader.

Again use what feels right, but look to build on your links with X

It doesn’t have to be long or detailed, but should feel genuine and relevant. The intent is to give something back to X after they have taken the time to say something nice about you AND to help ensure that your next encounter goes even better.

NB: When the comments made in a post are negative, this approach is not as apt, but that maybe the subject of a subsequent post.

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Ian J Sutherland 

Business Change Expert

Ian J Sutherland is a highly skilled director with expertise in governance, partnerships and regulation and almost four decades of experience serving as a powerful catalyst for change for organisations of all sizes and sectors. He thrives on identifying areas for innovation and improvement, forming effective strategies to drive efficiency and create bottom-line results. He has a proven capacity to serve as a bridge between organisations and functions, creating unity and operational coherence. A personable and creative leader, with a unique insight and the ability to see the big picture and provide constructive challenge, he writes on many matters including the delivery of change in today's world and is an opportunistic photographer who seeks to capture images that interest him. He enjoys good beer, good company and good music - not necessarily in that order.


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