Giving praise costs nothing – so why do we we always forget to give it?

May 6, 2015

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The other day I received a number of messages from various colleagues commending me on having done a good job. The particulars aren’t important to this discussion. Nor, I suppose, is the fact that it happened to me. I do not mean to toot my own horn!

But getting those compliments inspired me. Therefore, receiving kudos from one’s peers is what this post is about. Such a simple gesture saying “nice job” but it is one we often forget. As colleagues, bosses, partners we seldom offer congratulations. I don’t think it’s because we’re insensitive jerks. Not all of us. My theory is that so many of us are busy chasing deadlines and putting out fires that we don’t give success the same attention we give peril. Sort of a twist on the old saying about TV news: If it bleeds it leads. Or the squeaky wheel gets the oil. I fear this is also how we (I) can be as parents. Count how many times a day you admonish your children versus complimenting them. See what I mean?

A shame. Because receiving a pat on the back feels pretty damn good. Especially, come to think of it, when most of our days are in fact spent chasing deadlines and putting out fires!

Alas, I’m afraid good effort (from others as well as from ourselves) is taken for granted. “It’s just doing the job,” we might say… if we say anything at all.

On one level that is understandable After all, we get paid to do a good job. Having done so do we now expect a medal? Of course not. But I bet we’d really like it if someone noticed. I know I certainly did.

In Adland, there are too much politics and Schadenfreude. We creatives are insecure and defensive because our work is always being criticized. Account people grow resentful because their efforts are rarely appreciated. Saying thank you and nice job could easily right these ills and so many more. And unlike titles, respect and validation it cost nothing to give. Food for thought during austere times.

Oh, and lest the receiver of such praises forget: Say thank you!

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