Appreciation or Criticism. What Motivates You?

Why positive reinforcement yields a better response.

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I previously talked about knowing how much you care. Many times we take the “No news is good news” approach to human relations. If someone is not saying something bad then people often assume it must be “all good,” right? Well, not really.

As people we desire genuine praise, acceptance and recognition. In my role, of course I have to direct and tell people where they are missing the mark, but it’s also important to remind people of how far they’ve come and how much potential exists within them. To reach out and let people know that they matter can really make a difference in someone’s outlook. While we tend to look at life with a critical eye (there is a place for that), showing appreciation and praise for yourself and others is also necessary.

It could be with your partner or kid… Instead of telling your child their room is always a mess, try adding praise when it (or something else) gets even a little picked up, even if not to your standards. This is not to say that you cannot teach and correct along the way. The objective is to recognize their progress in a positive way. Over time they will do more and more as people are drawn to positive reinforcement naturally.

When we start our professional careers we have a vision of where we should be by title and salary by a specific age. And in talking with many clients for nearly two decades, and friends too, we realize that while financial security is important, as we age feeling fulfilled becomes more important.

Would you take a job that pays 20% less if you walked into work every day knowing you were appreciated and that what you did made a positive impact? Praising employees does not reduce a manager’s power, it creates a team that works together and a staff who will work with you. If you manage a team, take time to empathize with your staff, and show your gratitude.

Funny enough, as I pondered this post I came across this quotation. Sometimes it’s all about timing…

“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among the men the greatest asset that I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.”

Originally published at

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