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Giving Praise

Appreciation is a wonderful thing, wrote Voltaire. "It makes what is good in others belong to us as well." If you have ever been at a wedding or retirement party, you may have heard someone give a memorable toast that gave voice to panegyric expressions or kindly expressions of approbation. Funerals provide another opportunity for people to come together to appreciate the best in a person at their passing. Even those seen as a pariah, at their passing, will be given the blessings of those in attendance. Outside of these events, the opportunity to speak well or in praise of others can be sparse unless we work at it. Everyone craves praise so why is it so difficult to offer or receive praise?

Experiences within your family may have also colored your feelings about praise. If you were you raised in a family where there was a favorite and no matter how great your accomplishments were, they always fell just short of the favored child in your family, it wouldn't be hard to see why praise might be viewed with mixed feelings. Some managers run the workplace based on the "favored child" principle. While it is a disastrously ineffective management strategy, it may be nonetheless familiar, albeit uncomfortable, based on previous life experience.

Prospect for less obvious things to praise that may not have been heard before. Don't hesitate to offer praise to people that already get a lot of praise. Don't offer backhanded praise like, "you were really awful before and you have improved." This is not an acceptable expression of praise. Be careful when someone asks for your candid opinion, they usually aren't looking for a critical opinion but rather expressions of praise and support. I believe that praise can be offered not just in words, but also in actions. Remember, all kids count.

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