Over the past few weeks it seems as though my daughter Harper’s development has hit the fast forward button.

She’s launching ahead in her reading, writing and maths, she has grown a set of gills and is flying up and down the pool (just hit ‘Stringray’ status), she is loving Kids CrossFit and embracing exercise and discomfort, she faced her scaredy cat fears and climbed to the very top of the spider web at the playground and she has finally started to really want to work for her allowance. Not only understanding that in order to get what she wants, she needs to give back in some way, but she is actually enjoying having a spotless room and all of her things in order (she was a messy and entitled little bugger).

She is doing a great job lately and I couldn’t be more stoked with everything she is achieving.

I haven’t told her that yet.

I tell her she’s doing great, giving her the typical “wow, that’s awesome!” response we all give to our kids little achievements. But I haven’t properly let her know that everything she is doing at the moment is really awesome and that I am proud of her and her efforts to achieve these mini milestones.

And I think this is something we all forget to do… for our kids, for our partners, for the staff we manage, for our students.

When we are in a position where we can give feedback, the majority of the feedback is usually either constructive or negative. Rarely when we recognise a win, do we give much praise.

Constructive feedback is incredibly important, it is how we help others grow and develop. It should be where the majority of our feedback comes from.

Negative feedback and being critical of others weaknesses or failures is absolutely useless. It doesn’t help the receiver learn anything to become better and leaves them feeling less adequate and more useless. It also causes the relationship between the two to move in a negative direction. Negative feedback is also so goddamn common it drives me crazy. How people think it is okay to speak to one another negatively so damn often has got me fucked.

Praise is important. It doesn’t need to be used all the time. In fact, when it is used in the wrong manner it can cause a negative impact on the receiver, eg praising for talent rather than effort… “oh you’re such a great kick” (talent), as opposed to  “wow you’re kicking has really improved, you must have been working hard at it lately” (effort). When we praise talent it can cause the person to think that their abilities are fixed, that they cannot grow or improve. Telling a talented kid that he is talented can cause the child to become anxious, what happens if he doesn’t live up to that talent? Is he no longer talented? Telling a kid that his abilities are a result of his effort, consistency and passion to learn provide them with so much more opportunity to become better. Need an example? Look at the list of top 10 AFL draftees that never made it past 50 games. They didn’t suddenly ‘stink’ at football, the pressure on their ‘talents’ led to their demise. They weren’t given the right type of praise during their development.

Again, praise is vitally important. When someone has worked incredibly hard for something, whether it be in school, on the footy field or at work. How often are we praising them for their efforts? We tend to get caught up in finding ways to be better, or seeing the job done as it was expected, but often we forget about the human.

On the gym floor we are constantly critiquing form, ensuring movement is being performed both safely and to help the athlete become better. Sometimes they will manage to take the feedback and correct the issue, “Bloody Great Job!” That shit needs to be celebrated! But it can be very common to instead just give a little nod of approval and move on to the next person. (No we don’t need to blow hot air up their arses either, but we do need to acknowledge effort)

The workplace would have to be the most common space where we fail to provide enough praise for effort. I get it, we have deadlines, we have expectations, you get paid for achieving those deadlines and expectations… so why do we need to give praise? Getting the money is the praise, right?

Not quite. Yes getting paid is great. But that’s just a need. That’s a need so we can live and buy food and pay bills and buy shit. But for the benefit of the human, for their morale, for their continued interest in the job, for them to continually enjoy the challenges (or monotony) work throws at them, for their self esteem, for their self worth… we need to give praise for effort.

Not only does giving praise for effort do so much for the receiver, it is also a little self serving too. It makes you feel good inside to make someone else feel good about themselves. To see that twinkle in their eye after telling them how great of a job they are doing.

Not only does giving praise for effort do so much for them, and do a little for you, it’s also bloody easy to do! It’s certainly a lot easier than criticising someone.

Next time you’re in that position to give feedback, stop and have a think. Are they doing a good job? Tell them.