Praise can be hard to come by in our personal and professional lives. It’s as if there is some rule that praise is superfluous or unnecessary. Our inability to praise comes from being conditioned to correct and punish (some call it teaching) rather than celebrate and lift up. Perhaps you’ve had someone praise you and add some sort of negating or qualifying statement that minimizes its significance, as in:
- You did a great job but make sure you do this next time.
- You did so well on that project, much better than last time.
- I’m so impressed with your work, too bad we can’t use it right now.
- I like your idea but here’s how we’re going to do it.
- You’re so smart, sometimes a little too much for your own good.
Individuals and leaders often see praise as an opportunity to make some kind of comment, correction or criticism rather than simply acknowledging that someone did something well. It’s not that they’re evil, they’re just used to praising people with caveats.
A major part of self-awareness is understanding that your actions not only affect you but also the people around you. People like to be praised. It builds them up. Think back in your own history and you’ll likely remember the times when someone genuinely praised you. Thankfully, you can praise people as often as you want, without the qualifiers. What will you do to praise people more often?