“How can I just give praise?”

This is a comment I received after last week’s column where I talked about being specific, fully acknowledging, supporting, and praising. That’s right, I admit it. While praise can be very effective in motivating and uncovering possibilities and potential, it can’t be the end-all, be-all. There’s something to be said for being precise, for being pointed. Some people worry that if they let loose too much, they’ll lose their discipline.

There are situations and contexts where that’s understandable, and it’s a matter of personal values and style, so I can’t say whether you’re right or wrong, but based on what I’ve seen in building teams, and in line with recent trends in leadership research, organizational management, and coaching, here’s what I’d suggest.

What is praise? Is praise an act of grace? I feel like this is what underlies the idea of “praise sparingly, don’t overdo it”. The idea is that praise is given from the top down, just as ducks are given from the bottom up – the logic being that the judgment, evaluation, and decision of someone higher up determines whether or not it’s given. But praise isn’t the preserve of someone higher up, or of any authority figure. It starts as a natural and innocent response to a range of emotions that we want to immediately recognize, support, and celebrate. Sometimes we try to be more intentional with our praise, to promote positivity based on respect, caring, and love for the target. The fruits of praise shouldn’t be the sole preserve of our superiors, but should be actively picked and shared by our friends and juniors as well, because wouldn’t that be flattery? You know when the bell of sincerity rings.

In a recent episode of “Dancer’s Wanderlust” (hereinafter referred to as “Wanderlust”), Kim Wansun reflects on his past and tells his fellow cast members, “It’s so sad that I’ve never been praised…I’m the worst at rehearsals, and I’ve never had confidence…I’ve always been scolded…I’m embarrassed, and then I get angry. 토토사이트

Singer BoA also confesses, “I want to be praised, I want to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment, but when the stage is over, I’m told that this is wrong, that’s wrong, I’m criticized… My self-esteem goes down, I’m not good enough.”

Boa continues, “But nowadays, my friends don’t even say that I was ‘cool’ because I struggled, I was just the best, I had so much fun, I could have saved my life as a singer with those words…” How did that sound?

I cringed a little bit, because I had mixed emotions and thoughts: ‘Wow, even a top singer was that needy of praise and that upset,’ ‘Adults were so mean to him,’ and ‘Yeah, I’ve been there. Instead of praise, they were reprimanded and scolded, and their self-esteem was never able to take hold. So when you grow up with a lack of praise, you’re left with scars. You’re left feeling embarrassed and withdrawn. On the one hand, it broke my heart to see them open up about the things in their past that triggered their anger timers. They may have used the hurt and anger as a growth stimulus at the time, but now it’s traumatizing.

This time, they’re better at giving compliments. I brought you an interview with Hong Won-ki, the manager of the baseball team Kium Heroes, who commented on Jang Jae-young, a third-year professional prospect who started the game on June 11. Coach Hong said after the game, “Jang Jae-young pitched his planned innings well. He pitched more steadily than in the last game. He’s getting better and better, which is encouraging.” Hong’s words have all the makings of good feedback: He acknowledges that his starter didn’t pitch three innings, but that’s part of the plan, and he lets the youngster know he’s done his job. It’s also noticeable that he focuses on the process of getting better, rather than the issue (pitching). This seems like the perfect gift for a player who needs confidence. It’s good feedback and praise that supports the process and direction of improvement and growth, rather than pointing fingers.

It reminds me of a teacher in middle school who used to live by the saying, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.

Jongmoon Kim, Korean Coach Association Certified Coach

Jong-moon Kim is a former JoongAng Ilbo journalist who worked as the front office of the NC Dinos baseball team from 2011-2021. He took over as manager of the ‘last place’ team in late 2018 and led them to their first championship two years later. He is currently a Korean Coach Association Certified Coach (KPC).

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