3 Ways NOT to Praise Your Co-Workers

When you think back on your life’s highlight reel, you probably have an eclectic mix of moments running through your head. Perhaps you scored a homerun back when you played little league baseball. Maybe you nailed a presentation that secured your company a big account. Either way, these types of moments are remembered for multiple reasons—one being the praise from your peers.

Everyone has a different relationship with praise from others. Some thrive on it, while others prefer to find satisfaction from their own approval. Either way, praise is a great way to express to someone that they are on the right track. That is why giving and receiving praise in the work place can be quite important—it makes the team feel like they are contributing to the forwarding of the company’s mission.

Alexander Kjerulf, expert on happiness in the workplace, is a big fan of praise. If you praise your co-workers, you can boost the morale of employees and create a much more motivated work culture. However, Alexander notes that not all praise is good. Praise can be misused and have detrimental consequences.

According to Alexander, here are 3 ways NOT to praise your co-workers:


1. Praise Mixed with Criticism

“You did such a great job with this part, but…”

Sadly, a common misuse of praise is that it is often added to soften the blow of criticism. The problem with this usage is that it begins to nullify the significance of praise. If a person continues to practice this form of praise, over time the employees will start to feel that all praise is fake and only being used as a preamble to the true message being delivered. It also gives the impression that the praiser doesn’t have faith in the praisee, as if they don’t believe they can handle criticism.

The best way to bypass this is to just be honest. Deliver the criticism when it is needed, and do the same for praise. This will bring back the sincerity of the praise, making it more meaningful when it is handed out.

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2. Praising Some, Ignoring Others

“The Sales Team is killing it again this month! We could all learn something from them.” 

Sometimes people deserve consistent praise for their efforts. However, if only one group of individuals gets praise while others are repeatedly ignored, it can cause demotivation in the work culture.

The above quote is a great example. It’s easy to give praise to the Sales Team, since they provide visible results. However, it’s critical not to forget about the other teams that help make the sales possible in the first place. It’s important to make an effort to give praise to everyone involved in the work.

Of course this doesn’t mean that praise should be handed out equally to all. Alexander clarifies that it is of course natural for some employees to shine brighter, and they may deserve more praise than others. It’s just important to realise when good work is done by anyone, and praise appropriately.

3. Trivial Praise

[Repeatedly] “You look great today!”

This comes from an encounter Alexander had with a woman who attended one of his seminars. She would receive plenty of praise at work, but only for her looks. Besides being a bit creepy, this praise also is irrelevant. Other examples of this form of praise are compliments and acknowledgements given out for trivial matters. Praise should be delved out when someone does a good job in furthering the joint mission. Trivial praise can degrade the whole purpose of praise itself.

Make sure that praise is given out for acts that actually matter, and not for superficial matters and trivial accomplishments.

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Praise is an important tool to motivate employees—but its misuse can have completely the opposite effect. Make sure that your praise remains sincere and is delivered when it’s appropriate. Hopefully this will boost morale and productivity of your team, meaning you can feel free to give out much more praise—as it will be given out for legitimate reasons.



Philip Trampe
9 Oct 2014

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