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Why Be "Praise" Misers?


I heard someone say “Always praise in public and punish in private”. Very wise, indeed. How do our caregivers start teaching us right from wrong? They engage in punishing our bad behavior and (supposedly) praising our good efforts. Very intuitive, right? Sadly, the trend for praising slows down as we grow into adulthood. Very few are those parents who continue to commend their children’s’ efforts with time. Others are saluted for being alert not to embarrass their children in front of others upon misbehavior. They save the reprimand to a side-talk. Great! But they become blind unintentionally, sometimes, to the necessity of maintaining a sense of self-worth in their children. They don’t pause to counter-balance the negativity with what a child needs most: some acknowledgement for being good in other aspects.

Children are not the only targets of punishment or reprimand. It hurts even more when we become adults. We all make mistakes; and it’s already harsh enough to know that we are far from being perfect. But we learn from our mistakes (hopefully); and we don’t need someone else to keep bringing it to our attention in a domineering way. And if there is, indeed, room to effect positive change, there are rules for reprimand to work.

I admire those who are clever enough to properly frame a reprimand. Usually, those are more sincere in caring for the other and “saving his/her face”. They give some praise or compliment about the other person’s good intentions, unique personality, or another job well done. They, then, gently highlight the improper behavior, action, or strategy. Then suggest an alternative better mode to replace it. Even better, still, and after giving praise, is asking the other person whether that behavior is, indeed, the best there is in that given situation; and whether a better alternative exists. Very few are aware of how powerful framing reprimand in a positive sense is to move one forward.

In the heat of the moment, many loose sight of considering the good in others. We sometimes fail to see the bigger picture. But it is a learned skill. It can be utilized in dealing with both adults and children; with employees and employers; among spouses and friend. Praise – even for no specific incident- builds ones’ self esteem. It raises awareness that one is still appreciated despite any flows. It motivates one to believe in his/her ability to be a better person; not give up; and conclude being worthless. It is an attractive way to communicate with others.

I know people and employers who would refrain from paying tribute or compliments to others under any circumstance. When I ask why so, one mentioned that it’s his way of making the other person work harder and keep trying. In reality, this category would be so apprehensive to let others know how good they really are. They would be anxious of letting others be so confident or become conceited with time. All they could pinpoint is flaws of character, or faults in dealing or actions. What happens is it only leads others to stop trying. Why would they persevere if recognition is never granted? Unless they are intrinsically motivated to maintain high standards, the external motivation is just not there. Any interest to further prove one self wanes with time.

Unfortunately, “praise” misers are abundant everywhere we go. In every day life, few nice words do a great deal in alleviating a distressed soul. Praise and acknowledgement normally give reassurance of ones’ being; and supports undertaken efforts. Why restrict it to a behavior, or any other specific occasion? Why is it that we use acknowledgement sparingly when its effects are like music to the ears. It stimulates the heart to love life, the self, and the other person. It does not cost much. When made a habit, it reflects self-confidence, transcendence to a higher emotional level, and wisdom. Why then remain misers in spreading positive vibes around?

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