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Praise Is A Free Gift That Keeps Giving

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I'll bet you could tell me exactly when the last time someone gave you a meaningful compliment. In fact, I'll bet you can remember exactly what the person said that made your day.

Sadly, one of the main reasons these moments stick in our heads is that they're all too infrequent. So when someone does make the effort to acknowledge something you've done, it stays with us a long time.

However, a proverbial 'pat on the back' is more than just a memorable occasion. It's also hugely motivating. I'm sure that, as well as remembering what was said, you can remember the energized, positive and warm feelings that the acknowledgement gave you.

If you translate all this into your business, organizational, or home environment, it becomes a no-brainer to realize how you can easily inject energy and positively motivate the people around you - it costs nothing to motivate someone with genuine praise, so why are we so reluctant to do it?

Recognition of someone's efforts and achievements is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to reinforce positive behavior patterns and to empower people. It then follows that, the more you recognize and appreciate people's efforts, the more of a positive influence you can be on their life.

Of course, throwing random compliments around isn't going to cut it. You need to provide an appropriate and realistic acknowledgement if it's going to have he desired effect. Here are a few points to maximize your influence:

• Be sincere. Much as people love praise, if it isn't honest and appropriate, they're going to wonder what your agenda is! It will also impact negatively on your credibility.

• Timing is everything - in the same way that we punish our children quickly after a transgression to reinforce our views on negative and unwanted behavior patterns, so your praise needs to be a soon as possible after the event.

• Use your imagination! If you can mix it up and provide different forms of acknowledgement, it stays fresh.

• Be specific. Tailor not only the content, but also the style of your appreciation. A shy person won't thank you for a loud and public endorsement in a big meeting, but some people thrive on it. And while we're on the subject, make sure the person is in no doubt why you're pleased with them, to guarantee that they know what positive behavior is being reinforced. Instead of 'Nice presentation', say 'I thought you brought the subject to life and added a lot of new material. You must have spent a lot of time researching."

• Don't worry about singling out individuals on a team project. If one member of a project group stood out, tell them why their contribution was particularly valuable, rather than paying lip service to thanking the whole group.

• Remember to do it! It's all very well to have good intentions, but until you speak out and do it, that's all it will remain.

By showing people that they are valued, appreciated and respected, you'll unlock a huge amount of discretionary effort and energy. It's easy, it's quick, it's simple and, above all, it's free. SO, the big question is…What's stopping you?
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