More positive feedback please?


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When I’m mentoring someone I often get asked for my ‘honest feedback’  Often when I’m asked this, I’m tempted to grab the opportunity to point out all of the persons faults and areas for approval when what the mentee really needs to hear is reassurance and the knowledge that they are doing the right thing, going in the right direction.  They don’t want a knock back when they’re feeling vulnerable.  Leadership is all about managing people effectively, giving praise whenever possible and guidance when needed. 

So why do we find it so hard to give praise to humans.  We have no problem praising our dog when he’s done something well.  We are quick to reward our kids with praise and positive words when they have behaved properly.  So why do we struggle with giving someone a sincere compliment about their work?

The Manage your life blog has several tips for us to learn how to give praise.  Proper, effective praise – not mumbled or fumbled praise.  These points really resonate with me when I’m mentoring someone:

4. Look for something less obvious to praise

5. Don’t hesitate to praise people who get a lot of praise already.

6. Praise people behind their backs.

Giving praise costs nothing.  It makes the other person feel better, and their pleasure makes you feel better too.  Saying sorry costs nothing too.  Say sorry to repair relationships – sorry will go a long way to heal rifts.  Praise people highly, tell them how much you value their work and how valuable they are to you.  In the Learn This blog, one of the 50 ways to be more humble is to give and receive praise simply:

1. Use the response “It’s My Pleasure” when someone thanks you for doing something.

12. Appreciate others who learn something quickly and say so

13. Be quick to apologize when you do something wrong

34. Provide positive and encouraging feedback instead of criticism

38. Know how to accept praise with a simple thank you, don’t elaborate on it or talk more about it

All are positive affirmations that can be given to others.  All will make you feel better for saying it.  All of these, will brighten someone’s day. The Life Optimiser blog reminded me of Dale Carnegies quote which is still so true today:

“Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement.”

Go on – make someone’s day.  Give them praise for their written work, praise for their actions, praise for themselves.  You’ll make their day…


5 thoughts on “More positive feedback please?

  1. James Stratford

    Thanks for your post.
    Positive reinforcement is really underrated, except as you say with our pets! The best thing is that it works. It’s also about cultivating a certain generosity of spirit I think. We’ll just need to encourage and reward those who give even more:)

    1. eileenb Post author


      Thanks for taking the time to comment. So often, our lives are so busy that we don’t even have time to be nice to folk. The ‘pay it forward’ ethos really works here. If you lift someones spirits, they’ll feel great and lift others’ spirits along the way. And we should encourage more generosity of spirit to make the world feel a little bit better 🙂
      Thanks again…

  2. james O'Neill

    A request for Honest feedback, is not an enquiry to be taken literally ( like the question “How are you today”) …

    Actually I’ve found parents in general aren’t very good at telling kids when they have done something good (and we’d have fewer problems if more told their kids what wasn’t acceptable.).

    Generally just saying “Thanks” a bit more often would be a start. “Thanks for helping me out with that problem, because …”
    In the up the organization Robert Townsend has a section headed “Thanks” which says something like “A greatly neglected form of compensation”.

    1. eileenb Post author

      Yeah – Thank you is a word that isn’t used often enough – especially by some Managers in organisations. There’d be a lot more happiness in some teams if Thank you was banded about more often.
      Thank you doesn’t cost anything either. Sometimes it’s received in poor grace, sometimes it’s dismissed. But it’s valuable all the same…
      ..And I REALLY do need to get a copy of Robert Townsends book – I’ve heard so much about it, I’d better read it!

      And thanks for taking the time to comment – your comment has made my day a little bit better now that I know my post has made you ponder… 🙂

  3. Kieran

    But Eileen, you haven’t said what to do if you work with idiots? 😦

    Only joking, very interesting read.

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