Once after a mass, I approached the priest and told him that his sermon was so inspiring. Although he’s been preaching for a long time, he smiled as though he was complimented for it for the first time.
Catholics know that applause is not customary after the homily. So, I thought it was a good thing to tell the priest that his sermon touched at least one person in Church. Even though their words are supposed to come straight from God, they still need to know how they reach the ears and hearts of fellow humans.
I observe that a lot of us are quicker to criticize than to praise. Customer service personnel receive more complaints than positive comments about their product or service. On social media, we see more rants and bashing than compliments and expressions of gratitude.
Many of us do not have the habit of praising our co-workers. Maybe we’re too busy with our own jobs. Maybe we think that people are paid to do what they do anyway. Maybe we are afraid that the people we praise will soon ask for a salary raise or a promotion.
Jennifer Robinson is a senior editor for the Gallup Business Journal (Gallup is well-known for its opinion surveys.) In her online article In Praise of Praising Your Employees, she reported that according to a Gallup survey fewer than one in three American workers “can strongly agree that they’ve received any praise from a supervisor in the last seven days. “ (I wonder what’s the figure in the Philippines.)
She cited David Grazian, a director of corporate taxation, who said “when people don’t get enough recognition, they ask themselves ‘What am I doing this for? Nobody cares’.”
Ms. Robinson said that getting a compliment for a job well done produces dopamine, a brain chemical that creates positive emotions like satisfaction and enjoyment. She says we can get addicted to this naturally produced chemical. “If you get a charge of dopamine after a successful hunt, you’ll learn to go back for more of the dopamine surge and the prey. “
Now that explains why people in a parlor game will chant, rant, and trash talk even all the prize they get is a bag of cookies.
But Robinson, like all other authors, says that praise should be earned. Let credit go where credit is due. “If everybody wins, nobody wins.“
Martin Jones, Senior Marketing Manager at Cox Communications, offers a few tips on how to praise employees:
1. Don’t wait or hesitate. “The more time that passes between an act of great performance and the subsequent recognition, the more diminished the impact of said praise. “
2. Praise in person. “Even the smallest verbal confirmation of good work can brighten the moods of employees, while encouraging those around them to seek out that same positive reinforcement.“
3. Praise for productive failure. “Sometimes, things just don’t work out as small business owners would like them to. Instead of disparaging employees for struggling here, thank them for their best efforts and their hard-fought attempts to succeed.“
The awareness that somebody benefits from what we do gives meaning to our work. For example, I don’t get paid for these articles. But because people tell me that they actually practice the things that I suggest, I try my best to come up with an article every week.
To praise is easy. Just say “Good job team,” “you really write well,” etc. Don’t worry, if your rules and standards are clear, a compliment will not necessarily mean a guaranteed salary adjustment.
While praising is often free, imagine the cost of lack of praise and encouragement.
According to War History Online, Hitler was rejected by the school of fine arts because his painting skills were not good enough. He also had difficulty selling his artworks. If only somebody gave him more positive reinforcement.
Executips is a career advice column by Robert Labayen. He was a former Managing Partner and Executive Creative Director in an advertising company. He eventually moved to the country's largest media network where his job involves inspiring people to be their best. He's also a writer, painter, and songwriter.
ALSO READ: Executips: Talent vs. Character