“Words are powerful, more powerful than swords,” my mother read out loud while pointing to a line in a newspaper she was reading. Witnessing how my passion for writing was growing, she encouraged me with her words to let me believe more in the value of what I’m doing. On my way back home I started to think of her words. My mind drifted to my teachers both at school and at college. The words of four of them are still engraved in my mind though I graduated twenty years ago. What was the common thing between them all? It was ‘praise’. They praised me in a way that encouraged me to do my best, to elevate my performance in order to be up to their trust, to stretch my brain muscles and to work harder. I thought of my students; the amazing teenagers I’m lucky to work with, and how little words of praise help them unlock their potentials and unleash their gifts. My thoughts led me to 7 main factors we need to consider while using praise to ensure it truly brings the desired results:
1- Personalise the praise.
Telling all people the same words of praise turn them off instead of motivating them.
2- Praise the action not the person.
Instead of saying “you’re smart” or “you’re responsible” we better say “you handled this problem in a smart way” or “you acted in a responsible way”.
3- Praise at once.
Waiting for a week or two to praise people for their good actions is meaningless.
4- Be careful while praising in public.
Though praising in public is very rewarding, yet we must make sure not to hurt the feelings of other people who are around and who might be worth of praise as well.
5- Praise the progress.
Even if it’s a little progress, some people truly struggle to achieve it. Praising the progress while comparing people with themselves – not with others – motivates them to keep progressing.
6- Be sincere.
Look to the person in the eye. Speak slowly and articulate. Some people rarely hear words of praise so allow them to indulge in those moments of glory.
7- Put it into writing as much as possible.
So often people wish to hear the praise again and again. Writing lines of praise gives people a chance to reread it and to refresh their feelings of happiness.
Struggling with a rebellious child, a stubborn teen, a closed-minded boss or a nervous partner? Try words of praise, they have a magical effect when used appropriately.