Praise and recognition are an easy and effective way to strengthen working relationships and encourage positive performance, yet many people neglect, misuse or feel uneasy doing it. Why?
Issue: Too much praise and recognition.
There is a concern that if too much praise or recognition is given often, and too consistently, it will lose its effectiveness and become meaningless. It’s true that praising others for good work should be the exception and not the rule. Behind that belief is that when praise becomes predictable it’s easy to discount, and it loses its meaning. Remember however that recognizing positive behavior and results should always be something special and it should be given regularly and consistently, when it’s deserved. We never tire of receiving recognition that’s truly deserved and that is freely and sincerely given. If you avoid giving insincere praises that sound like “hot air” you will never have to worry about giving too much recognition because you will never be able to give enough.
Issue: Exaggerated praises and overstatements.
There is a belief that if recognition is given it must be given for exceptional performance and it must be accompanied by words associated with exceptional like “best”, “greatest”, “most”, etc. The use of exaggerated praises and overstatements is risky because of at least two reasons. One, the person receiving the praise may believe they are being manipulated. The recognition is then perceived as being insincere which creates suspicion. Second, it could lead the person to believe erroneously that they are in line for an immediate bonus, pay raise or promotion. Building false hopes through over praising performance leads to disappointment and disillusionment. Give sincere recognition and avoid using exaggerated exclamations. Be specific and honest and don’t create expectations you don’t intend to fill.
Issue: The use of “if”, or “but” in recognition statements.
In an attempt to communicate appreciation a “qualifier” is added to “balance” the praise. The purpose for the qualifier is not always clear, but the results are the same. Adding “if” or “but” to your recognition statement discounts and sometimes voids the power of your statement. A statement such as, “That was an excellent report on the xyz project, but…….” can have a negative impact instead of the positive impact you intended. The person will usually remember the negative part of your communication, the part that came after the “but”. That’s not what you want them to remember.