South-Western - Management  
In Praise of Praise
Topic Motivation
Key Words Motivation, praise, rewards
News Story 

A compliment, freely given and received, is one of the great pleasures, and motivating forces, in life. Mark Twain once remarked that he could live two months on a single compliment. So why is praise so seldom used in business and so often poorly received?

There's an art to delivering a compliment and to graciously accepting one. Too often people use praise as a way to curry favor with the boss or wheedle something out of someone. Compliment misers think they are doing the right things by reserving the commendations for only the pinnacle of praiseworthy actions. But in reality, it is rare for a week to go by without the opportunity to deliver at least one plaudit.

Public recognition, big awards, and fat checks tend to be rare and fleeting. The compliments that stick with you are the small, personal notices for a job well done. A few choice words, delivered with a smile, or even by email, will do.


Name some reasons this author believes praise is an effective motivator, then add your own to the list. Given all these reasons, why do you think praise isn't used more often?


For one week, keep track of each time someone gives you a compliment or praises your actions. How did it make you feel? Did you find yourself wanting to repeat the action that was praised? Try keeping track of each time you compliment or praise someone. Did you find that doing this activity increased your instances of complimenting and praising? What did you learn from these experiences?


Have you ever had an experience when you received praise, but expected a more tangible reward (money, affection)? Describe the situation, and explain why you think praise was not the appropriate motivator in that circumstance.

Source "In Praise of Praise," The Chicago Tribune, Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service Feb. 10, 2004.
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