Acceptance of others’ actions is best delivered in full. You may have witnessed being complimented as a precursor to receiving criticism soon-after. People like to couple criticism with words of positivity to make their critiques sting less. Without realizing that this method actually exaggerates their words of criticism, they hope their critical messages are camouflaged by words of encouragement. Know that your words of positivity will have little impact if you follow them with criticisms too soon. Your audience will tend to focus on the negatives and ignore your words of encouragement even if those words ring true.
This article aims to motivate you to not couple your compliments with criticisms. Allow your acceptance of others’ actions to simmer by itself. Your positive messaging will hold power if you don’t deviously tag it with criticizing words. If you choose to couple compliments with critiques, the pleasant words begin to unstick and fly with the wind, while the coupled criticisms become the only ones that remain in mind.
The goal of delivering positive messaging to those who have performed well, is to encourage that type of performance going forward. Do not forget the goal behind your kindness. Propagate their positive behaviors, keep their improvement moving forward, and understand the vulnerability they show in their performance. If you opt to deliver positive reinforcement, then do it fully without any grey areas in your message.
With the goal of having your positive words stick, motivate, and encourage for as long as possible. Allow your words to simmer after you deliver them. As a metaphor, imagine frying a thick piece of steak on a searing pan. In the scenario of providing words of encouragement, your role is to control the heat the pan is exposed to. The chosen cut may not be perfect, it will lack seasoning, it will be ill prepared, but it will be too late mention those aspects once it is already on the pan.
Your words will set the heat at which your listener’s steak (performance) is cooked with. A steak does not need much to be well prepared, as long as it is cooked just right. Set the heat right in the minds of others, and allow their steak (performance) to simmer toward perfection. Your words of encouragement should be as simple and effective as setting the perfect level of heat on a stove – quick, direct, clear, and consistent.
The Role of Criticism in Propelling Positive Performance
Is it a good idea to criticize the lack of seasoning in others’ performances? Should you mention that they’ve gone about it the wrong way? Should you mention that they are ill-prepared, lacking practice, and executed ineffectively?
Criticism motivates well when it is delivered right. Coupling criticism with praise however, is better left unattempted. Encouragement will muddy the message contained within the criticism, and criticizing will blur the encouraging messages that you send. People are predictable in their reaction to encouraging words. They will generally accept them with a smile, and allow them to propel their levels of motivation.
Criticism however, requires practice to accept. The delivery of perfect criticisms is a two-step process which relies on your listener learning to accept criticism prior to you delivering it. It is for this reason that predicting reactions to criticism is difficult. Criticism is vulnerable in how it is interpreted, and can ruin the message behind your encouraging words. You can mention that their steak needs more seasoning and that it should have the fat cut off. However, their unpracticed attempts at executing on those critiques can damage, rather than benefit, the result.
If you choose to deliver words of encouragement, stick to the safe bet of doing so without attaching criticism, and practice doing it well. You can become good enough to never need to resort to criticism. It will take patience, and it will take thought. Keep your words of affirmation short, clear, but effective. Have the goal of encouraging positive behavior in mind and set the boundaries of interpretation by excluding things that can be interpreted in a negative way.