Monday, June 09, 2008

Dangerous Praise

We may sense that giving praise can be dangerous but then we quickly dismiss such fears by thinking, "It's praise. Who can object to something favorable?"

And that is where we first err. Praise, when mishandled, can be as cutting as a knife. Its related blunders may continue to wound years later.

Consider the following and assume that in each scenario the praise is sincerely meant:

Poorly-timed praise. Combine the giving of praise with an event or an audience that will dismiss or overpower it due to dismal timing and what should have been a kind gesture will be squandered. The recipient will probably know it has been squandered and will be accordingly resentful.

Embarrassing praise. Many people take criticism better than praise. Sometimes this is due to cultural proclivities, especially if the praise is given in front of others. The old line, "Praise in public, reprimand in private" doesn't always apply to praise.

Diluted praise. If you are going to praise, do so without footnotes or caveats. If you include either, your qualifiers will be remembered long after the praise is forgotten.

Inflated praise. Praise can be overdone. Once hyperbole arrives, credibility departs. Make sure that your words are credible.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! This post was selected as one of the five best business blog posts of the week in my Three Star Leadership Midweek Review of the Business Blogs.

Wally Bock

Michael Wade said...

Thanks, Wally!

mark cowin said...

Hi Michael,

I followed a link from Wally's blog, and I'm glad I did!

Thanks for a great perspective on what I'd always thought was a cut and dried (i.e simple!) activity.