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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why Don't You Ever Praise Me?

By: Patrick Wanis

The dictionary defines praise as the act of expressing approval, admiration or commendation. Every one of us desires praise at some level, and in one form or another. Praise is a member of the family of emotional needs: validation, recognition, approval, acceptance, support, encouragement, significance, self-expression, bonding, friendship, and so forth.

Children and praise

Many of my adult clients suffer from various emotional symptoms as a result of not receiving praise as a child which is also equivalent to validation and guidance. Adults who didnt receive praise as a child often suffer from self-doubt, insecurity and a lingering sense of not being or feeling good enough. Some turn into perfectionists, workaholics, or highly judgmental people. Unfortunately, today, the balance has tipped in favor of unhealthy praise by parents for their children.

Unhealthy refers to false praise which can create even more emotional problems into adulthood such as narcissism, vanity, depression and the inability to form meaningful and fulfilling relationships.

Healthy praise is the act of expressing approval, admiration, commendation, congratulations and credit for specific reasons and particularly for accomplishments.

The key to all praise is that it be deserved. Here are some other tips for praising children:

* Praise a child based on her own progress (teach her to improve her own performance rather than compete with others)
* Encourage good behavior with praise
* Reward the attainment of specific goals, not just participation
* Praise small improvements and successes
* Be descriptive and specific with your praise

Few adults, business leaders and even CEOs of major companies know how to praise properly and effectively. Most of us dont realize that whatever it is that you praise, you will get more of. I was training a group of hotels from one of the worlds largest hotel chains. I asked participants to take turns in giving praise to fellow team members. I asked one gentleman to stand up and praise the head chef. This man stood up and proceeded to congratulate the chef for the superb Seafood Omelette, mentioning how much he enjoyed it. I asked the participants if they believed the chef would want to cook that same omelette again. The answer was a resounding yes. Now I began to praise the chef for the same omelette: I mentioned the creativity, presentation, hard work, thought, care and time the chef had given to prepare this omelette as well as the result and pleasure I received from it. I asked the chef which praise did he prefer, mine or the other mans. He said mine. Why? I praised his specific qualities and dish rather than just the specific dish; my praise encouraged him to express more of these qualities rather than cook more of the same omelettes. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the man who gave the initial praise was a manager of one of the hotels. Later, when we spoke, he said he now understood why his wife cooks the same dish almost day after day - he kept praising just the dish and not her qualities, and, so she gave him more of what he praised!

Incidentally, in the corporate world, more emphasis is placed on criticism than praise and encouragement. For that reason many people resent their job, boss and company.

We express praise in many ways. We applaud the performance of singers, dancers and actors; we cheer for our sports teams and players; we tip waiters and other hospitality staff; we express affection - we hug friends and family. The praise most of us seek is from our loved ones and the people closest to us - parents, siblings, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. Most of us believe that if the person is important to us, then what they say is also important.

I never received the praise of my father so I never believed he was interested or proud of my achievements or accomplishments. In fact, he focused on criticism rather than praise and it takes six times more praise to neutralize one criticism. Nonetheless, one of the results for me was that I never learned to enjoy, appreciate, acknowledge or recognize my accomplishments. Instead, I simply turned my attention to the next challenge. The benefit was that I created and accomplished a lot in a very small amount of time. The disadvantage was that I would hover between bouts of apathy towards praise and bouts of seeking, desiring and almost demanding praise in relationships. Worse, I did not know how to praise nor understand the significance of praise. Remember, you cannot speak or express a language that you have never learned. Accordingly, I made a concerted effort to learn to give praise. And this is the key: begin to praise others and yourself - recognize your own achievements, successes and accomplishments as well as those of others. The more good you see in others, the more good you will see in you, and the more good you see in you, the more good you will see in others. Begin today to learn the language of praise by expressing it: applaud, honor, congratulate, pay tribute to, credit, respect, commend, admire and approve others. Write it; say it; express it today! And when you do it, dont do it expecting a response from the person receiving it - simply give it away! You might need to push yourself at first to notice praiseworthy things and to express praise, but you will see small yet powerful changes as you keep doing it.

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About the Author:
I am a Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert. I provide weight loss hypnosis programs and many other Hypnosis programs.

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