Kinds of praise

As an enfp I am very conscious of praise. External validation is really important to me so I am always looking for signs that my work is being appreciated.

However, there are kinds of praise that work for me and others that I mistrust.

A previous client would frequently tell me how happy they were that I was on board. This is the kind of praise I mistrust. It’s generic rather than specific. It’s like being praised for being beautiful. It makes me feel uncomfortable and anxious. I feel that it sets up an expectation that I cannot live up to.

Being praised for a specific thing I have done however, is a different matter. This acknowledges a past action without setting up expectations for the future. This is the kind of praise I like. This is the kind of praise I try to give as a manager.

There is some scientific basis to all of this. In his fascinating book “Bounce” (a must read for anyone who cares about managing well) Matthew Syed recounts the difference in performance that is seen when people are praised for their hard work rather than their talent.