I often wondered how much better our world would be if we could reverse the ratio of criticism to praise. It seems like everyone has lots to say about what's wrong in this world and little to say about what's right. In this lesson, we will discuss why we should make every attempt possible to praise more and criticize less.
Because our world revolves around the negative reporting and opinions of the media and pundits, we all tend to be more critical about life's issues. This mindset is quite unfortunate because there are lots of good, conscientious people in this world that are starving for praise. In my opinion, praise definitely motivates individuals to do more good things, while constant criticism not only DE-motivates individuals, but totally demoralizes them.
In studying some of our greatest leaders, both past and present, I found that most of them had one characteristic in common, that made them very effective: They praised and recognized their followers often and criticized them much less.
All human beings yearn for praise. We make a big fuss over our kids when they say their first word, walk their first step or ride their bicycle for the first time. We hug them when they get their first "A" in school and brag about them constantly if they do well in sports. Kids need constant praise and support to move forward and think positive about life and so do we as adults. We all need to feel like our actions, sacrifices, and conscientious behavior is appreciated. Praise from those you love and respect builds one's self esteem and really works for people of all ages.
Parents, when dealing with their children, are in an important position. When parents praise their child, the child will start to form positive BELIEFS about his or her abilities. Likewise, when parents criticize their child, the child will start to form negative beliefs, or doubts, about his or her abilities. That's a pretty big responsibility for a parent.
As children grow up, they are constantly forming a set of beliefs on what is and what isn't possible for them to achieve. Are the beliefs correct? It doesn't matter. The beliefs have been largely formed by how much praise or criticism each child receives. If children are genuinely praised for doing a good job, they will tend to strive for more as adults. At the same time, if children are constantly criticized for their actions, they will avoid attempting new goals for fear of failure and the predicted criticism that will follow.
Many adults live their lives based on these early formed beliefs. If an adult was constantly praised as a child, then there are no problems. But what about the adults who were constantly criticized as children? Are they out of luck? Fortunately for them, the answer is NO! These beliefs are NOT fixed. They can be changed.
Most of the time, critical behavior is passed from one generation to the next. One mother constantly criticizes her daughter, who then criticizes her daughter, and on and on it goes. The patter is set and the belief adopted that, "This is how it's always been and therefore, this is how it is. You never got praise from your parents."
But then one generation breaks the cycle when a child realizes that this is NOT how it should be. That child, when it reaches parenthood, makes sure to praise as often as possible and a new trend can miraculously begin.
If you find that some of your negative beliefs or doubts originate from your childhood, it is YOUR responsibility to change them right now. There are no owner's manuals for parents; so realize that your parents probably did the best they could. But as an adult, YOU call the shots on what's possible for you.
If you were fortunate enough to come from a family with a tradition of using more praise and less criticism, make sure you do the same with your own kids. On the contrary, if you came from parents who criticized often, then let that habit STOP with your parents. Don't let it go any further. Your actions will affect future generations in your family tree.
These same principles apply to all relationships in life; whether it is parent to child, employer to employee, husband to wife, or friend to friend. In the end, unless we know it all, which none of us do, we really don't have a right to criticize. It's best to use praise as your trademark and let life blossom as it was designed to do.