I look forward to my weekly cricket lessons and I have a great coach however sometimes he praises me or tries to protect me after I have just edged a delivery through the slips with a,
“Great shot, that’s four.”
I reply, “You don’t think a chest high edge to first slip is probably out?”
“No chance. That was going like a rocket.”
Good intent but potentially a bad outcome for some this strategy of unwarranted praise (or protectionism).
Boosterism can lead to cynicism when we lavishly hand out praise that is not anchored in reality.
Even with young people in junior sport they generally see through the praise of,”You were terrific out there today” and they are thinking,
“Really? I didn’t touch the ball.” (Young people have a built in and very effective ‘bs’ detector as do we as adults).
Lou Tice highlighted in an early version of the Excellence program of the strategy of ‘delimiting’, that is, you might offer the praise of,”… that is the best I have seen you play that shot,” or”… that is the best I have seen you chase the ball. ” That it is a better strategy to compare their current efforts to their previous efforts.
Few of us would compare a new employee to a the firms superstar ie ‘”I made a sale this week of $1000.”
To which you reply ,”Oh Justine does that amount in her coffee break.”
Although having said that Stan Alves, the terrific former coach of the AFL side the Saints, told me once that at times , it is helpful to compare a young player to a superstar in certain areas. For example he was talking to a frustrated,struggling young player once and he asked the player if he could ever be as good as the teams star known as ‘Banger’. “No way,” was the reply. Stan persisted,” So you couldn’t be as good a mark as him?”
” Oh I could do that as he never takes an overhead mark.”
“What about handballing?”
“Sure he doesn’t handball.” And so on. The player left the meeting with renewed confidence and Stan purposefully kept the discussion to what the young player could control.
Look for opportunities to praise with intent and avoid letting our enthusiasm to praise out run our common sense.