Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pass The Praise

Most people are not very good at taking compliments. We like to get them, no doubt, but, then, we don’t know what to do. The appropriate response is a simple, “Thank you. That’s very kind of you to say.” Instead, we make statements like, “This old thing? I’ve had this dress forever,” or “Nah, it’s not a big deal. I always make banana bread from scratch at four in the morning.”

Why do we do this? Why do we minimize praise?

On the other hand, we often fall short in the compliment-giving area. There is nothing wrong with praising someone for doing a good job. We need to compliment each other a whole lot more than we do. If your co-worker has a nice new haircut, tell her. If your son took the time to iron his wrinkled shirt, tell him he looks nice even if he only ironed the cuffs and the collar. Maybe he’ll iron the entire shirt next time. Again, it’s important to understand the effect of praise. Research has proven that praise, as opposed to criticism, leads to more of the positive behavior.

I’m on this tip because I was a weather-proofer for most of my life. When you weather proof a home, you go through it looking for every thing that’s wrong. You find windows that don’t seal properly. You check to ensure there’s enough insulation in the attic. You look for light seeping through cracks around the entry doors; an indication you need to add weather stripping. You pore over every square foot to see where you’re losing energy.

In my advancing age, LOL, I’ve learned it’s just as important to look at the good things in my home. It’s beneficial to my mind and spirit to notice what is working properly. This applies to homes…and relationships.

We need to seek balance between the praise we give our loved ones and the criticism we hurl at them. We need to spend much more time talking about what’s working properly in our relationships.

I’ve come to believe that people are like my sports watch. It’s inexpensive and the design is simple. However, it’s much more complicated than it appears. Whenever, I travel outside my time zone, I try to change the time on the face of the watch. Invariably, I forget the peculiar combination of buttons I must push to change the time. I get mad at the watch and yell at it. I tell the watch it’s wrong and I’m going to replace it. Sometimes, I hit the watch.

It doesn’t change.

In order to get the watch to change on the outside, I must change the inside. I can’t do that by randomly pushing buttons. I have to push the right buttons, in the right order. Once, I get into the “heart” of the watch, I change the “behavior” of the watch. In other words, it responds favorably to my wishes.

I react the same way and I suspect you do, too. If someone says the right thing in the right way to me, I’m willing to help them. I want to help them. Yelling or hitting me doesn’t make me want to do anything but leave.

Perhaps this works for everyone. Maybe if we show each other more appreciation, we’ll get along better. I’m willing to try. Are you?

© 2009 Monica F. Anderson. All Rights Reserved