Praise Like a Pro
Praise is powerful, and at the same time dangerous. Yesterday, I assisted a dear friend organize a send off program to a colleague who has just been promoted and is moving out to another region. Short messages from previous/present staff and cohorts were lined up. I noted that we had difficulty with the listings. I think this is well-timed to write about how to deliver professional and effective praise. Try this primer.
One of the most powerful forms of creative communications is praise. We are bordered by occasions to exploit it — in teamwork, in the workplace, in family life, in volunteering, even in dog training — and when we do it well, it works wonders. Effective praise can permanently lift someone’s performance. It can radically change someone’s self-image, or even the trajectory of their life. At the very least, it can make their day. On the other hand, wrong praise at the wrong time, in the wrong manner, can be worse than useless — it can be devastating.
There are three components of basic praise: the name, specific thing you want to say, where and when, and sincerity.
Always address a person by her name. It conveys respect. The sweetest word in most people’s ears is the sound of their own name. And, if you address me by my name, it means you know my name — it means you have noticed me. One of the yearnings of the human soul is to be noticed. If you start any sentence with someone’s name, you’re starting off on the right foot.
If your praise is unclear, it can sound uncertain too. If you are extremely specific, you can bypass resistance and earn trust. Sincerity – you should only ever give praise that you truly mean. Think about a time you earned the praise of somebody you respected. You cherish that praise because you treasure the opinion of the person giving it. And, you valued that admiration or honor because you trusted the sincerity of the person giving it.
As you move up in the organizational hierarchy, you will be the kind of person whose opinion is valued by others. And your good opinion will be valued in direct proportion to how much your listener respects you, and believes you. Do not be insincere – the worst thing that might happen is, you succeed and get good at it, undermining your integrity, the foundation of professionalism.
However, be careful, and practice. A real professional can handle power with responsibility. As you continue to grow, you will find that successful praise comes easily to your lips and honestly from your heart.
By: Dr. Nila L. Filamor
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