Jun 23, 2009

Praise is a good thing...right?

“I think you did exactly the right thing!"
“You did such a good job!"
"What a nice friend you are."

We often think that a positive evaluation or agreement will help others feel better, keep talking and get over their problems. Contrary to the common belief that such support is always beneficial, it often has very negative effects on a person with negative feelings and problems. A positive evaluation that does not fit the other’s self-image may also evoke denial. People also infer that if we can judge them positively, we can just as easily judge them negatively some other time. Also, if praise is frequent, its absence may be interpreted as criticism. Praise is often felt to be manipulative, a subtle way of influencing others to do what you want them to do. And if you praise a lot, you run the risk of making people so dependent on your praise that they cannot function without constant approval from you.

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