Sincere Praise is Encouragement

by Michael Corthell

Effective praise is always positive praise. It reinforces high expectations we have for each other. It is always appropriate. It always promotes independence and it is always sincere. In the work place or academic settings effort toward progress are noted and commented on.

The right words of praise can be so encouraging, but bland, empty praise is meaningless. AND never, ever confuse honest praise with flattery...

''Flattery is telling the other person precisely
what he thinks about himself.''

Dale Carnegie

Flattery is therefore, undeserved praise. It most often is given in generalities. For example, when Granddad comes over the house and says, "Max, you are so handsome and you are really smart, too," that is outright flattery. On the other hand, praise is focused and specific. It is well-deserved and positive reinforcement. "Ryan, I really like the way you keep your workshop clean, neat and organized." Respect and praise go hand-in-hand. Always be genuine in your praise and encouragement. In everything we do, our goal is to foster positive outcomes.

Praise must be focused and specific. Generalized praising is not effective and doesn't make much of an impression.

Look for ways to praise sincerely and realistically. If you pay attention and look closely at what people are doing, you will always find something praiseworthy.

Never offer praise and speak of a favor at the same time. It obviously makes the praise seem like a quid pro quo—a set-up.

Look for something unordinary and less obvious to praise. Something more obscure or quality that a person hasn’t heard praised many times before will show the person that you are observant and truly interested them.

Don't neglect people who already get a lot of praise. You probably have noticed that people who get a lot of praise, or because they get constant praise—actually crave praise. This could be because they are insecure or that they have come to expect it. Regardless of the cause there is no reason to be 'praise-stingy'.

Praise people when they aren't present. The praised person will always hear that you have praised them. Non-present praise always appears more sincere than in person praising.

AND, be very careful when someone asks for your honest opinion. Solicited praise is a differnent deal. It is the difference between receiving a money gift and asking for a loan. This is often a hint that they're seeking reassurance, not honesty.

Praise is gratifying to the receiver, of course, but it also increases the happiness of the giver. That is because the way we feel is almost always influenced by the way we act. And by acting in a way that shows appreciation, discernment, and thoughtfulness, we then feel better about ourselves.

Please note that because praise is very powerful, it can also be dangerous. Praise is a tool and like any tool it has its positive/negative sides. Giving someone praise that they truly don't think they deserve can make them feel worse than if you’d said nothing at all. They may even think that you are clueless or incompetent. On the flip-side, if someone is knows that they did good job and you criticize or nitpick, that can demoralize and alienate them or make them very angry.

And again, never confuse praise with flattery.
  • Praise is directed toward a task completed and flattery is adulation without a specific cause.  
  • Praise should be encouragement while flattery is a deception, in other words a lie.
  • Those who praise are very self-confident, but those who flatter lack it.
Honest, focused praising will build and foster trust. Trusting relationships whether at work or at home build true harmony in our lives.


A Study on Praise and Mindsets


The power of believing that you can improve

Carol Dweck researches “growth mindset” — the idea that we can grow our brain's capacity to learn and to solve problems. In this talk, she describes two ways to think about a problem that’s slightly too hard for you to solve. Are you not smart enough to solve it … or have you just not solved it yet? A great introduction to this influential field.