It’s nice to give praise. To tell people they did a great job or that you really enjoyed the coffee/meal/cake they made you. Positive feedback helps reinforce desired behaviours and sends a message of appreciation. Something that’s much needed in the workplace and home. But have you stopped to consider how you give praise?
“You did a great job Sally, well done”
“That presentation was awesome. Great job!”
“Amazing cake, thank you!”
Do you spot a theme?
Yes, the words are positive. But then if they weren’t, it wouldn’t be praise.
The other thing you may have noticed is that the words are all fairly general. They’re not specific and are easily swapped around with one another. “Awesome” could apply to the cake, presentation or job that Sally did.
The problem with using generalist vocabulary is that it lacks true impact and doesn’t really say what you were impressed with. The effect lessens with each usage. The problem with telling everyone that they do a great, awesome or amazing job, is that over time, the effect of that compliment diminishes.
How to give more constructive praise
It all comes down to the words you use. Be more thoughtful in your choice of vocabulary. Perhaps Sally did a “meticulous” job, or maybe she was “right on brief“. Both of these give Sally an idea of what you’re so happy about, helping guide her with future projects. She’ll be just as, if not more pleased than if you’d said “great“.
And that “awesome” presentation may well have been “inspiring“, “thought-provoking“, “highly competent” or even “well-judged and very funny“. So much more helpful than an over-used statement of “awesome“.
And of course, you’d be absolutely right to describe a delicious cake as “amazing”, but how about getting a bit more creative with your compliments – “so rich and chocolatey”, or “light and delicious”, or even “just the sugar hit I needed right then”. You’ll be so much more likely to be offered an extra slice…
Let’s face it, no-one’s going to get grumpy with you if you happen to tell them they did something awesome. I certainly wouldn’t. But to give them a thoughtful compliment or well-considered piece of praise could well make their day.
And wouldn’t that be awesome?
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