Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity.
-- SAMUEL JOHNSON
We all enjoy recognition, especially if we have accomplished something we think is worthwhile. When people you are with talk about things they are evidently proud of, there is a simple way to intensify their pleasure. Be quick to praise their wisdom, generosity, thoughtfulness, quickness, cleverness, or whatever is appropriate.
You can be sure they will regard your praise as another indication of your charm.
Appreciation and praise are vitally important to all of us. It is the fuel in the furnace of motivation. Without recognition and praise, many of us would perform well below our potential. Research indicates that many employees respond more positively to praise than to a raise.
Remember when you have seen your child, spouse, a friend, or coworker light up with pleasure because you praised or admired or showed appreciation toward them? Remember how it feels when it happens to you?
I can remember my very first major theater review in the newspaper. I was directing a play by Maxim Gorky called The Lower Depths, and it was my first professional production. Depths is a great classical work but a great challenge to cut your teeth on as a director. Naturally I was flattered at being given the opportunity and frightened by the immense responsibility.
Early the next morning after opening night, I raced out to get the newspapers. I sat in my car for what seemed like an hour before working up the nerve to open them and see if it was thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Then I took the plunge.
I opened the newspaper and with shaking fingers, turned to the theater page. And there it was, the headline: "Great Play Gorky, Great Production Aiden." My stomach contracted with pleasure. Then I read what the critic had to say. He saw my faults as well as my virtues and for him, the virtues obviously had outweighed the faults.
I was at the beginning of my career as a director and his carefully weighed praise contributed considerably to my motivation, momentum, and pleasure. That's what praise can do, and people rarely get enough of it.
One of the best definitions of self-esteem is how much a person considers herself or himself to be praiseworthy. The more you genuinely praise people's behavior, the more they like and respect themselves, and the better they feel toward you. To be most effective in giving praise, you should follow these guidelines.
First, be specific. The more specific the praise, the greater impact it has on the person's feelings, and the more likely it is to motivate the person to perform even better in that area in the future. Instead of saying, "You're a great secretary," you should say, "You did a wonderful job on that proposal and getting it out so quickly yesterday."
Second, praise immediately. The faster you praise people after they have done something praiseworthy, the better they feel and the more likely they are to repeat the action.
Third, praise for both large and small accomplishments. As Ken Blanchard says in The One Minute Manager, "catch them doing something right."
Praising others for their accomplishments is something most of us do not do often enough. You must be the exception to the rule. Praise makes people feel wonderful about themselves and is a key element of charm.