Be generous in your praise, and be sincere: “I can really see that you stepped out there; that you faced your demons – all your doubts and fears – and you overcame them! I think that’s amazing.”

The more sincere you are in your praise, the more it will serve others. And the opposite is true. Praise that is insincere harms both the giver and the receiver. It damages trust, and dishonours any kind of relationship.

‘Praise’, as we know it, is often another way of saying, “I will say I like you, to get you to like me.” It is usually an attempt to manipulate people to do what you want. The classic example being the way in which a certain kind of gentlemen will complement a certain kind of lady, in an attempt to get her into bed.

Sure, it is nice to be appreciated, but not if it is only as part of an agenda.

Be generous in your criticism, and be sincere, too: “I am telling you this, because I love you.” Do not criticise others because it makes you feel better; do so because failing to be critical would be a disservice to people.

Because you know who they really are, and you think that it is time that they started raising their game. Because, while they may settle for mediocrity and being average, you won’t let them get away with that.


It is as challenging a task to take praise well – without being cynical about it, or without it going to your head – as it is to take criticism. Treat both with equanimity, because they will usually say a lot more about the person who dished them out than you.

© Phillip A. Klein March 2008

Published in: on March 17, 2008 at 2:25 am  Leave a Comment