Have you noticed how society seems addicted to compliments? Someone cooks a bowl of pasta, posts a picture on social media and waits for everyone to tell them how amazing they are! There literally is no limits to what people expect praise for today.
Putting on makeup, finishing homework, doing the washing up, walking the dog, opening their own tin of beans, getting out of bed before noon, remembering to eat – the list of worthless tasks people post on social media and and expect recognition really is endless.
And it gets worse, people expect praise for things they haven’t done – not getting a detention all week, not bullying their brothers/sisters, not leaving the toilet seat up, you get the idea. So what is wrong with praise? Well I’m glad you asked, let me explain.
What’s the problem?
Firstly there is nothing wrong with praise – just the way it is given. When used indiscriminately, praise becomes worthless. If someone is praised for every little thing they do, it has no meaning. I’ll use a classroom situation as an example.
I am sure we all remember being in the classroom and feeling miffed that teachers would praise outcomes not effort. The bright ones in the class would produce a piece of work with no effort whatsoever and be praised for their amazing work. Yet the students who worked really hard and put a lot of effort into their work get no praise because the completed work isn’t as good as the others.
I am sure classroom management could be vastly improved by praising effort rather than outcomes – but that’s another story. Then we get to the teachers who praise everyone regardless of effort or achievement. Why would a learner work really hard on a task if they were going to get praised just for writing their name at the top of the page?
Do you think those smart learners really felt good because of the praise or was it just expected? The learner who hardly ever gets praise is much more likely to appreciate praise when it is received.
Praise makes you feel good (if you’ve earned it)
I think most people feel better about themselves when they receive a compliment, it is human nature. But it must be earned. I really think it is more important that you are happy with what you have achieved yourself rather than looking for compliments from others.
Thanks for nothing
Then we move onto those who get praise for doing something that was their fault in the first place. Like people who get praise for losing weight – it was their fault they were fat in the first place! Why don’t we praise the people who are not fat? Or alcoholics who have been on the wagon for a while! They shouldn’t have become an alcoholic. Again we don’t praise those who are sensible and can moderate their alcohol intake.
What about when a prolific burglar is in court and is praised because they haven’t been in trouble for 15 months – well whoop-de-doo. Let’s get everyone who has not been in trouble for 15 months together and congratulate them. Besides it doesn’t mean they haven’t done anything wrong for 15 months, just that they haven’t been caught – until now!
I really don’t understand society, I was always brought up to tell the truth and not hurt anyone. Today you daren’t be honest in case you offend someone. When people ask for your opinion, what they are really asking for is reassurance of how amazing they are.
My goal is to….
Reach an age where I can tell everyone what I really think and not give a damn for the consequences, just blame my age! Not be nasty, just truthful.
What do you think?
Is praise given out to easily today? Or am I a dinosaur that just needs to lighten up? Please let me know.
Thanks for reading
Justin – founder of twitway.com