Give Praise Where It’s Due

thank-you note

Do you ever feel like this? I’m so tired of people looking weary and glum wherever I go. Is everyone having that bad a day? Am I stuck forever in this atmosphere?

You’ll be surprised at how people respond when you simply make the first move and say something nice. A courteous greeting will do, but a real compliment is even better. Most people try hard to do well. Sometimes their attempts are awkward and inadequate, and other times their effectiveness and success are astounding. Either way, it makes a big difference when one person walks up and says, “I really appreciate all your work.”

Why be stingy with praise? Are we really so envious of another’s success or giftedness that it hurts us to say “good job”? We train children from an early age to walk up to their opponents after a game and say, “Good game!” no matter who won. This attitude should travel with us every day.

I’m convinced of the virtue of giving praise because I have seen its effects so often. I don’t gush or hand out empty compliments. But I have thanked janitors in public restrooms for keeping those places clean; I’ve complimented total strangers on their coats and hairdos. I’ve gone out of my way to tell some short-order cook that those were the best scrambled eggs I’d had in years. I’m not trying to earn points; I never expect to see these people again. But they’ve brought something good to my day, and they should be told about it.

We lose nothing by building up another person; we gain his look of surprised pleasure in response to our three-second statement. It’s so easy to say thank you. It’s quite effortless to tell a person that she’s done a good job. And you can be fairly certain that your words will stand out to her in an ordinary day full of frustrations and complaints.

Before the day is over, find someone to praise.

A Little Prayer for the Next Step

Show me the people who are doing wonderful jobs. Point my genuine praise toward someone who really needs to hear it today.

This post is excerpted from Simple Acts of Moving Forward.

Who on my religious education team needs to hear a word of praise? How can I be on the lookout for opportunities to genuinely compliment my fellow catechists or students?

About Vinita Hampton Wright 5 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality and is a blogger at dotMagis. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

1 Comment on Give Praise Where It’s Due

  1. How very true this is! I always make it a point to offer praise. It’s wonderful to see the change in people when they know how much they are appreciated.

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