Scott Adams, the American cartoonist who created Dilbert, writes in How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big (2013),
Children are accustomed to a continual stream of criticisms and praise, but adults can go weeks without a compliment while enduring criticism both at work and at home. Adults are starved for a kind word. When you understand the power of honest praise (as opposed to bullshitting, flattery, and sucking up), you realize that withholding it borders on immoral. If you see something that impresses you, a decent respect to humanity insists you voice your praise.
Lavish Praise on People and They’ll Flourish
In his masterful self-help manual, How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), Dale Carnegie quotes the American steel magnate Charles M Schwab who was renowned for his people skills,
I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people, the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. …
I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise. …
I have yet to find the person, however great or exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he would ever do under a spirit of criticism.
Carnegie suggests, “Be lavish with praise, but only in a genuine way … remember, we all crave appreciation and recognition, and will do almost anything to get it. But nobody wants insincerity. Nobody wants flattery.”
How to Praise No Less Than Three People Every Day
Here’s a simple, effective technique to unleash the power of praise and honest appreciation:
- Start each day with three coins in your left pocket.
- Transfer one coin to your right pocket each time you praise someone or remark about something favorably. See my previous article on how to recognize people in six easy steps.
- Make sure that you have all the three coins in your right pocket by the end of the day, but don’t give compliments willy-nilly.
Avoid flattery and pretentiousness, especially when someone thinks that they truly don’t deserve the praise. As well, don’t undercut praise with criticism (as in a sandwich feedback.)
Idea for Impact: If you can’t be bothered with opportunities to elevate others’ day with a few simple words of appreciation, perhaps you’re just too insecure or emotional stingy. Even if praise is directed on others, it emphasizes your own good character—it shows you’re can go beyond self-absorption in the self-consumed society that we live in.
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