Estimated reading time: 2 mins
Have you noticed that when you give someone praise that they walk away with their chest puffed up and a smile on their face, and then more responsive and engaging? The effect of praise is like a nitro blast – its power is tremendous. What you’re doing is creating pride, which is an awesome motivator. Do you give praise enough?
I was reminded about the effect of praise when I was talking to a colleague in India recently. He had just completed some sterling work but was struggling to begin the next phase, which was at my expense. I could have balled him out and told him to knuckle down, but instead of that approach I gave him some praise and described how his work so far adds value to me and how excited I was to be working with him.
What did this do?
I could hear his voice escalate into excitement , and his whole demeanor changed instantly. The subsequent effect was a transformation of his perceived challenges into directed work. What’s happened now is that he has become a follower to my leadership and will come to me for help and direction in the future.
Ah yes. Pride is one of the deadly sins, but who cares? What pride does is something deeply psychological. It increases our stature and reinforces our sense of accomplishment . This in turn is an ‘intrinsic reward’ for the achievement, and boosts self-confidence and self-esteem. It also boosts productivity .
What’s more, instilling a sense of pride in someone is FREE. Totally FREE. It’s a wonder why it isn’t used more. Perhaps this is why:
Because it’s free, it can be given too freely. It is true that if, as a worker, our efforts are perceived inadequate by ourselves to produce a good result anyway, praise can be damaging. We’ve evolved to understand that applied effort = reward , and if effort isn’t perceived as effective then a successful outcome is a result of luck. If you’re ambitious, or keen to learn, luck doesn’t have a home to rest in.
The other reason is the ‘paradox of pride’ – we don’t seem to like big-heads or boasters. “We giveth, and then we taketh away!” So I guess it’s a fine balance.
But I say who cares? If someone has done good work, then tell them. The effect of praise is so powerful then it’s worth giving it in abundance. If productivity increases by even 0.1% then it’s better than nothing. And if all it achieves is making a fellow human being feel good about themselves then it makes it worth it anyway
Times are tough at the moment and we all feel the pressure at times, and often it can spill out onto others. We all need a boost and to know our work is worthwhile and adds value. If you have nothing else to say, or there is a gap in the conversation, then give praise!