The power of praise has been scientifically documented to help children achieve more than they had believed, providing motivation for them to reach their goals when they thought the task impossible. With children, it is imperative to praise the effort to encourage them to try harder.
Praise is equally important in adults, but the use of praise to motivate others becomes more complicated. Catherine the Great said, “I praise loudly, I blame softly.” She was a wise woman who understood much about the human spirit, but, as with many things, there are also exceptions to the rule.
In some cases, praise has its greatest effect when it is delivered by a highly critical person. When someone has a predisposition to criticize and is difficult to please, praise can seem like an unattainable goal.
On the other hand, those who deliver praise vocally and regularly often can provide the greatest motivation by withholding it. In instances such as these, the silence screams volumes.
1. Praising a Family Member
Family relationships lend themselves to open, frequent, and loud praise. When you are applauding a member of your family there is no reason for restraint. Avid praise can be powerful, energizing the recipient, filling him with pride, cheering him up, and making him happier.
Marriages with frequent praise tend to be more deeply emotional and happier. Praise develops a bond that few other emotions can match. Praising a child’s efforts will give him the confidence to try his hardest, even if he is afraid of failure. Praise can help children overcome incredible insecurities.
As beneficial as open praise can be in the family, there are some other considerations to take into account before bestowing praise on an employee or colleague.
2. Praise in the Workplace
Due largely to supervisor/subordinate relationships in the workplace, the use of praise must be judicious. It still provides many wonderful benefits, but must be delivered carefully.
Praise in the workplace must be given by someone who commands respect from the troops. If the supervisor bestowing the praise has no credibility with his employees, then the praise can potentially be more harmful than beneficial.
In order to be a motivating force, praise must be genuine. The person delivering the praise must truly believe in it, and that the recipient has earned it. If the praise is not genuine, it will come across as false and can potentially be damaging.
Specific acts should be praised. It means much more when it can be connected with a specific act, event, or behavior. The praise should be given immediately following the event for it to have meaning. If the employee is praised a month after the fact, the effect will have vanished.
Depending upon the forum, praise may be given publicly or in private. When deciding which method is best, consider the workplace environment and the personality of the person involved. If the employee is prone to embarrassment, it may be better to deliver the praise in private.
3. Praise Often
Allow yourself to get into the habit of giving sincere praise. Overdoing it will reduce the effectiveness because the praise will lose some of its sincerity. For truly deserved acts or behaviors, though, do not hesitate to let an employee know what an excellent job they did and that their efforts were truly appreciated. Praise can be a great way to inspire and motivate employees to continue positive behavior.
When properly applied, praise can motivate the lazy employee to reach for goals and can increase overall morale in the workplace.
In contrast to delivering praise, correct behavior when necessary but be careful not to be overly critical. Try not to concentrate your focus on errors or mistakes.
Never attach stipulations to praise. Make sure it is pure when it is given. Praise is so much more than mere mention of a job well done. It affirms to the employee that their presence and efforts are sincerely appreciated.
There typically is far more criticism in the world than there is praise. There are those few employees who respond better to a harsh hand and a stern word, and will try to take advantage at the first sign of kindness. They are few and far between, though. The free flow of praise is likely to have a far greater impact on stimulating productivity and engaging creativity in your employees.
The next time your spouse, your child, or your employee does something that pleases you, unleash with unabashed praise and let them know just how much they are loved and appreciated. See for yourself the light in their eyes and the glow on their faces as they become filled with pride in a job well done. Then just watch them go as they try to replicate the behavior, so they can reap the benefits of praise all over again.
Thanks to Quiverfull Family for including this article in the Carnival of Family Life.