Praise What Really Matters

Big successes are easy to spot but sometimes small accomplishments are overlooked. If you want to celebrate the success of others, therapist Julie Hanks, says start by praising what really matters.

What is praise?

Praise is simply the expression of approval or admiration of something or someone.

Why we sometimes hold back praise or compliments?

It’s a risk to share our thoughts and feelings, even if they are positive. We might feel embarrassed, awkward, insecure, or fear rejection.

What should we focus on when offering praise?

Praise Effort
Recent research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology on praising children suggests that praising effort (“You studied really hard on that test”) not outcome or personal qualities (“You’re so smart” or “You’re the best soccer player ever”) actually helps children feel good about themselves not matter whether or not they achieve external “success.” (source)

Praise Intangibles
It is much easier to notice the tangibles, the things that we can see with our eyes or touch with our hands. But when it comes to praising other women, noticing and commenting on the intangibles are often more meaningful.

Examples of intangibles:
· The ability to enduring a difficult family challenge with gracefulness.

· The willingness to take a conversation to a deeper level through sharing a personal struggle.

· The mental ability to make connections about seemingly unrelated topics and express them in a way that illuminates others.

· The ability to be at ease and comfortable in their own skin.

· The ability to help others feel good about themselves in conversation.

Praise the Small Stuff
It’s easy to praise the big things – the awards, the job promotions, the redecorated home – but most of life is made up of little deeds and small moments and tiny victories.

“We can do no great things; only small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta

How to Praise What Really Matters

Be Specific
The more specific a comment is the more impact it can have. Consider the difference between these two comments given by a stranger in a grocery store:

· You’re such a good mom

· Wow. You handled your child’s tantrum with such patience and creativity. He really responded when didn’t give in to his crying about that toy.

Be Authentic
Use yourself and include your own emotions in the comments that you share with others. Heartfelt praise feels riskier but the payoff is the potential to create a deeper the connection that can be made between you and the other person.

Be Unique
Try giving praise to a loved one in a different and unique way. If you usually say it verbally try writing it down in a note or email. If you are more comfortable giving praise over the phone, next time you notice something positive look that person in the eye and saying it to their face.

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