Manager is offering praise to his employee

Praise & Encourage – How to Give and Receive

My good friend Jeffrey Shaw is creating a movement. This movement is in response to a life-altering event that occurred thirty-one years ago. That’s when Jeff’s father died just hours before his wedding ceremony.

Jeff was the only one with his father as he was dying. Moments before he lost consciousness, he spoke to Jeff. He said, “you’re a good kid.” Those words were the last ones Jeff heard from his father.

But those words didn’t convey what Jeff longed to hear. He wanted to know his father was proud of him. He wanted to hear his father say, “I’m proud of you.”

You may relate to Jeff’s need hear those words. Or maybe those words aren’t the right ones for you. Regardless, being validated matters. And that validation starts from within.

Jeff says that over the years he has been able to turn “you’re a good kid” into “I’m proud of you.” How? He recognized his own truth. He is proud of himself.

Jeff’s story is both about being a receiver and a giver of praise or encouragement. In that story, there is learning about being acknowledged and providing acknowledgment. To that end, here are a couple of tidbits for being a receiver and a giver.

Receiving words to praise or encourage

When you are grounded in your own self-worth, the words of praise and recognition you hear from others will be the right ones. You’ll be open to receiving and experiencing their impact. The words you receive can make an impact one of three ways:

  • They may echo what you know to be true: “I am proud of you.” => “I am proud of myself.”
  • They may provide a way to shift self-doubt: “You handled that situation well.” => “I hope I handled that ok” shifts to “Wow. I handled that well.”
  • They may shed light on something for you to get curious about and explore further: “I am impressed by your strategic thinking.” => “Hmm .. I wonder if it is time for me to consider a career move into the corporate strategy team.”

These examples illustrate the validation praise and encouragement can provide. However, if you are steeped in self-doubt, you may be reluctant to receive. And if you close off a part of yourself to positive feedback, you may be unable to echo what is true, shift away from insecurity or grow from what you heard.

As a receiver, how will you be a part of Jeff’s movement? How will you act upon the words you have heard?

Giving words to praise or encourage

What you say counts. You don’t want words that come across as hallow. Thus, select your words wisely based upon the following:

  • the length of time you’ve worked together
  • the connection you share
  • the accomplishment worthy of recognition
  • the leadership behavior you’d like to see more of
  • the growth you see in who the person is becoming
  • the sincerity you want to convey

And remember to always use the person’s name before your words:

  • Paul, You handled that difficult conversation well.
  • Mary, You must be so proud of this report and the presentation you gave to net it out.

Personalizing your feedback adds significance.

As a giver, how will you be a part of Jeff’s movement? What will you say to people around you?

Click here to learn more about Jeff’s story and his movement.