Even constructive criticism can be harmful. Contrasting criticism with a genuine comment which is positive and actual praise, can do wonders for someone. Especially their confidence. Let’s face it, just about everyone can benefit from a confidence booster every now and then.
I read an article this weekend about women in business. Essentially the article boiled down to the fact that women are much less apt to give praise to other women. This applies both in the office, and outside of it too. What a shame this is happening. It doesn’t have to, and even though the article focused on women, men can be equally stingy about giving out praise.
Unfortunately given our current office climate, men are probably afraid or concerned about praise being misconstrued in a negative way, and potentially used against them. I can understand why they might be hesitant to do so. However, sincerely giving out praise in a “Switzerland-like” neutral way is possible to do. It takes a bit more effort to think through constructing the comment, but it is worth it.
Back to the women. There are absolutely no excuses for them not to be giving more praise to one another. Some theorists would suggest women do not compliment one another because they are fiercely competitive with one another. In just about all situations. As a woman, I can definitively tell you I have seen this happen first hand.
I cringe when I think about having witnessed a missed opportunity to praise someone, or a team. However, I’m not one to just stand by the sideline and keep quiet about what I see. Instead, I speak privately to the person who was the lack of praise culprit, at a later point in time.
When I speak with them, I gently explain to them about how damaging their lack of praise can be. I also point out that when praise is not given, they are missing out on an incredible opportunity to elevate another person. In fact, women should be the first ones to be supporting one another, although the concept of praising others is gender neutral.
People can thrive in so many different ways. One of the best ways to do so is via having others support them through basic and sincere praise. Think about an instance that sticks out in your mind about a time when someone provided you with genuine praise. It felt great, didn’t it? It should have. However, it’s a fleeting feeling, and needs to be fueled by more praise. Which as we have established is easy to give, and should be given far more often than it is.
There is no need to be stingy with praise. To be crystal clear, I also don’t believe or support the school of tough luck or love. I have yet to see how this type of management or coaching style of interaction is more effective than a highly supportive and encouraging environment. In fact, I have seen teams who are managed with an iron fist, and directly or indirectly through words or actions told they are essentially not good enough. The results? A slow and painful destruction of the team’s morale, character and worse, self-esteem.
When a team is ruled, and deprived of praise, I have seen the business numbers typically prove out negative performance results. In this case, I’m referring to a sales team, but other types of teams (e.g., sports, customer success, marketing, engineering, product development) are also negatively impacted in other ways from lack of praise. For instance, their productivity and creativity levels are usually way off.
The worst part about the management types who operate with a little to non-existent praise philosophy, is that they are generally blind to the negative impact they are having. What a tragedy for those who are under this type of management style.
Is it possible to turn around a person whose leadership or management style is absent of praise? Of course, it is. Is it easy to do this? Yes, and no. Yes, if they are willing to be open to trying another approach which will yield better and different results. No, if they are closed minded and think only they have all of the answers.
Being a consummate optimist, I always give everyone the benefit of being willing to change for the better. I have even seen some real-life miracles of leaders and coaches who have been willing to change. What did they do? They adopted and applied what I refer to as a “Praiser Strategy Approach”. Guess what the results were? In a word, amazing!
Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of MarketMe Too. She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, author of Wisdom Whisperer, and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer who has a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances.
Our expertise is in uniting, motivating and reinvigorating teams (sports & business). What does this do for our clients? It provides them with an acceleration boost to reach their goals sooner, and interact with a renewed efficiency, focus and energy level.
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