Supporting A Colleague With Cancer Comeback Conversation – Imposter Syndrome with Caroline Flanagan
Praise is mood-boosting, performance-enhancing and anxiety-reducing so why don’t we do more of it? And be better at accepting it when it comes our way? This piece is for both returning employees and line managers and contains top tips on:
- how to give more meaningful praise
- how to accept praise more graciously
- how to get praise when your manager doesn’t give it
How to give more meaningful praise
If you’ve ever taken extended leave from work you’ll know how reassuring it is to have your manager tell you you’re doing a grand job in those early weeks and months. Praise is information that has the power to eliminate doubt, boost confidence and fuel motivation. Here’s are X tips to make giving praise easier and more powerful:
- Put a gap between the praise-worthy event and the praise. Whilst you might give a quick thanks after the ‘event,’ revisiting what happened a day or two later shows you’ve thought about what the person did and felt it important enough to revisit it.
- Describe the specific behaviour your team member displayed and the impact they had. “It took confidence to ask those ‘silly questions’ in the team meeting. Because you did, others talked about what they didn’t understand about the project. You’ve saved me a whole load of time and we’ll do a better job because of what you did.”
- If the person likes the spotlight, give praise publicly. For some people, being recognised in front of their peers magnifies the power of the praise. An added benefit is the positive impact it has on other employees at no additional cost to you. Picture this: you want to have a family in the future and can imagine yourself taking maternity, adoption or shared parental leave. But you’re fearful about how it will affect your career and your colleagues’ perceptions of you. If you witness a manager praising someone just back from maternity leave it’s going to make you feel a whole lot warmer and fuzzier about doing the same thing yourself.
How to accept praise more graciously
- Think of the praise as a physical gift you’ve just been presented with. It’s beautifully boxed and wrapped with a ribbon and a bow. You wouldn’t bat it away and tell the giver that they should give it to someone else would you?
- Get out of your own head and into the giver’s. Imagine that person has seen you do something they aspire to or find difficult. If you knock their praise back and dismiss your achievement how will that make them feel about themselves and their prospects?
- Channel your inner David Attenborough. If you’re uncomfortable with attention, look the person in the eye, smile and say thank you as though you are David Attenborough. Then move the attention away from yourself by engaging them on a related subject:Praiser: “You are the most splendid storyteller. I love your programmes and think you are amazing.”David: “Thank you, that’s very kind. Are you involved in conservation too?”
- Aim for ‘happy high status’ where you have presence and confidence without being arrogant. It’s where humble and powerful meet. Think in terms of and rather than but: “Thank you, I enjoyed it and was grateful to be supported by a strong team. I will pass your feedback on to them as well.” Instead of “Thanks but it was my team really, not me.”
- Practise this affirmation: I am a work in progress and accept the good others see in me.”
How to get praise when your manager doesn’t give it
We’ve got a few suggestions on how to get more praise out of your line manager. Which you choose depends on how patient you can be and how much confidence you can summon. Number one is for very patient people:
- Wait until your manager gives you praise. Then praise her for the praise. “When you told me that I asked insightful questions in the client meeting last week it made me feel really good. Could you possibly give me more of that?”
- Ask for it directly and tell your manager that praise helps you do a better job. It’s an odd manager who wouldn’t want to be part of a high-performing team, so this should appeal to that desire. “When you tell me what I’m doing well I feel like I get more done and do it better – it gives me a feelgood buzz that just rubs off on my work. Could we make this part of our 1:1s?”
- Praise your manager – and if they like the spotlight, do it publicly. The more senior your role the less likely you are to receive praise because it’s counter-cultural to praise upward. It’s a shame that’s the case because everyone has a need to feel good about themselves. Give your manager praise often enough and you’ll soon have them trained to send praise your way. Did you ever hear us say parenting involves lots of transferable skills….?
“However ambivalent you are about your own merit, there’s a self-perpetuating danger in down-playing: you convince others, they treat you accordingly, and in turn, you become increasingly convinced you’re nothing special.
Keeping ambition and success under wraps also transmits a subliminal message to others that these are things to be ashamed of, which sets a less than positive precedent for others in your team.”