Well, maybe not if I don’t want to be too hard on myself. I’m guessing a lot of you “tie-wearing” executives who think you practice good effective business leadership or if you’re involved with leadership in governance, you might be making the same mistake as I have.

Oh well, let’s commit do better. Let’s modify our behavior.

Having been a community activist all my adult life, often in leadership roles, I’ve often found myself in the “Public Square” delivering messages of goodwill and empowerment. The quick and easy “compliment” … was usually “Thank You” (genuine) followed by “You’re the Best”, “You’re the Greatest”… mostly genuine but … Wrong! Like most of you, this is well-intentioned with no malice. I know I can do better.

After reading “This Common Type of Praise Actually Makes People Perform Worse” on Inc.com and a few other similar articles on their Website, following my big mistake (realization), I now commit to utilizing my brain to make more meaningful statements of praise from this moment forward. 1

I Didn’t Mean to Compare You

I realized after my reading that by making simple although sincere statements, I was using the incorrect words to convey “The Message” that I really intended, that of Recognition and Encouragement to do better. It’s the second part of that where I have stumbled.

The problem with superlatives
When done correctly, praise should prime the brain for higher performance, which means that the more we praise, the more success we hope to create. But that depends on your praise being “Delivered Correctly.” And if you’re using superlative language like, “the best” or “the greatest,” you’re not doing it correctly. Praise, isn’t necessarily praise, when done incorrectly, it’s a comparison, and as such, it sets up implicit competition with others, which tends to make people more stressed and/or self-aware.

Lisa Bendt, And Not But,My Promise: I will speak deeper praise next time

So the next time I receive those complimentary words of “You were the best speaker today”, I won’t wonder … compared to whom?

I’m channeling the “Smiling One” who from time to time saves me from myself.

It’s AND, not But.