The Power of Praise Done the Right Way

Ink on paper towel – Words: Laura Bush

No matter wether you are an introvert or extrovert, we all want attention. However the way we want attention may be different, Some people need to be the center of attention, the star, the one everyone sees, hears and wants to know. Others want attention for their accomplishments, what they have done in life which means they many not be in the room when they are being praised. And still others greatly appreciate private, one on one praise which allows them to peacefully reflect and absorb the accolades.

When I read these words from Laura Bush, it reminded me that everyone wants attention in different ways and some people like any kind of attention more than others. In getting to know the people I managed, I always asked them, when we were talking one on one, how they like to be praised. I was always amazed who wanted what kind of praise and how much that may or may not have matched what I thought would be their response. I had to learn to flex how I was proud of them publicly, privately, in a team setting and one on one. Just because I wanted to praise them does not mean it would have the same impact when they received it.

We assume everyone wants a party, a big show, balloons or a plaque to hang on their wall…not true at all. When we do not pay attention to the how we often get the opposite effect. Someone who does not like public praise can be mortified when they hear their name called out at a company meeting. And someone who wants public accolades is sad when their name is not said out loud. Knowing the difference has the power to encourage or enrage depending upon how badly you mix it all up.

If you ask people, they will tell you what they prefer. We simply need to listen AND believe them. And once they tell you their preference, do just that…do what they prefer. Praise is a pretty important part of our lives, so getting it right means the people feel important in the special or private method of their choice. We can’t assume everyone wants to own let alone wear a red dress.

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