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Why you should stop Praise & Prizing?
If you have been following the Language series it may not be a bad idea to do a quick review of the last few episodes. Especially that the first four parts constitute Internal Languages and the last three cover our Social Languages. Parts I-IV were building blocks for the next three episodes.
It was a big day for organization X. The day of the interview for the largest and most prestigious project they have ever been invited to. The fact that the project would also open a whole new market for the company had put more pressure on everyone. Everyone involved in the project proposal and interview had been working long hours in preparation for delivering a passionate, creative and top notch interview that would set the team apart.
Everything went as planned. The team left the interview feeling uplifted and confidant. Everyone was in high spirits and it didn’t take long till they heard the winning news. Time to acknowledge, appreciate, and celebrate.
“ I just want to express a word of appreciation to Margaret. She went out of her way to assure our success on this project. She did great! And I am so glad she is a part of this team. She is truly hardworking.”, the CEO confirmed, in praising the team.
Does the scenario sound familiar? What is not right with the picture? How could the appreciation be expressed to leave a more lasting and more heartfelt effect?
Well, three major red flags. The language of appreciation that the CEO is utilizing is the language of prize and praising. This language is:
How is it indirect?
Well, Margaret is only addressed indirectly as a part of the team. She is “ mentioned” as a third party and pointed out in a group. Appreciation and gratitude should be directly addressed to the individual, not as a third party, if it is intended to leave a lasting impression. Besides, direct appreciation will have a more powerful impact on everyone else present in the meeting as well.
Pause: Can you think of your own language of appreciation? How direct are you? Do you address others as third person or directly? What should change to create a more impactful language?
How is it Nonspecific?
Margaret’s performance is described “ great”! Great in what way? Did she have a strong leadership in regards to cognitive skills or graphics? Was she able to connect to the interviewer’s in a deep professional level or was she able to manage the team perform at their best? Which of her many skills exactly helped the team?
A specific appreciation will help Margaret be more aware of her abilities and the skills she can cultivate on. It will also indirectly help her recognize the areas she can improve.
Pause: How direct is your language of appreciation? Do you easily recognize and admire the gift each individual has to offer? At home? At work?
How does it confer worthiness on another?
This might be the most difficult of the three. It’s such a natural part of our communication that stepping out and looking at it objectively is not an easy task. We all use expressions such as “ She’s so kind.” “ He is hardworking.” “ She is a fearless go getter.”, don’t we?
In a context of appreciation and gratitude, however, when we use this language we are are not expressing gratitude. We are rather entitling ourselves to bestow worthiness and value on another individual. Almost like forcing a character to the other person.
Compare this language with a non attributive language such as:”Margaret, I really appreciate the time you took to orchestrate this presentation. The way you showed up and fully engaged in the process truly made a difference in the outcome.”
Pause: Remember the last time you gave someone the gift of appreciation. How much of it was attributed to yourself? How much of it was an outfit you made for that person and made them wear it?! How much was a clear description of their contribution?
A direct, specific and non attributive appreciation moves the language for praise and prizing to ongoing regard. It will create more sense of fulfillment and personal satisfaction for the person hearing it and it will, for sure, strengthen the bonds between the parties engaged in communication.
Making all these changes in one’s language at once is not an easy task. Where do you want to start from? Can you create a self observation around it? Would it be possible to implement change in small increments?
One can not know until one tries!
Yours, in gratitude