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  • Recognition: In Praise of Praise

    RecognitionIn praise of praise: Why being generous with your compliments is such a good strategy.

    We all like to be complimented for our efforts. But how do you rate when it comes to giving recognition and handing out praise to others?

    Are you someone who gives a lot of compliments to your partner and to the people you work with? If so, the chances are you are going to be a lot happier and more successful than those who believe that people shouldn’t need to be complimented if they are just doing what is expected of them.

    What Science Say About Recognition?

    This subject was studied by an eminent psychologist called Marcel Losada in the late 1990’s. He found that people in teams at work needed to receive a minimum 3:1 ratio of positive to negative comments in order to operate effectively, with a ratio of 5:1 being optimum. The 3:1 ratio is now known as “the Losada Line”. People who are below the line (and who don’t get enough positive comments) languish at work and don’t give of their best – whilst people above the line tend to flourish.

    The Implications for You as a Manager

    The effect for a manager is even more profound because being a manager of a flourishing team is a lot more enjoyable and productive than being a manager of a languishing team.

    Think about how you feel at your own annual appraisal at work. If your manager wants to correct your approach in a certain area, wouldn’t you be much more likely to act on this request if he or she first reminded you about all the things that you are doing well? You are even more likely to respond well if you have received regular recognition and thanks throughout the previous year, even if you were “just doing your job”.

    And it’s so easy for a manager to do! Saying “Thank You” every time someone does a good job takes only seconds but the impact can be profound! And it works the other way too: Saying thank you to your boss is not being a creep. It is good manners and encourages him or her to be an even better boss in future. Everyone likes a bit of praise and recognition.

    Recognition Outside Work

    Curiously, the optimum Losada ratio of 5:1 at work is identical to the findings of a relationship psychotherapist called John Gottman. He found that marriages in which the partners gave each other five times more positive than negative comments almost never end in divorce. On the other hand, people who give their partner more negative than positive comments should not be too surprised when the letter from a solicitor arrives one morning!

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