I was having a group with teens about building up job skills and how to become a valuable employee in the work place the other day. We began to discuss the topic of praise; not only in the workplace but also in school, around friends, family, and strangers as well. I asked the kids in the group, “How do you feel when someone praises or compliments you on your work?” In this particular question I was asking about an adult praising or complimenting them. After I asked the question there was a short pause and they all looked at me as if I just asked them the hardest question they have ever been asked. After the short pause and gathering their thoughts, all of them responded in the same manner. Basically the consensus was, “It is weird. I don’t like it. I feel awkward.”

In this moment my heart broke a little. Not just for them but for all of us. I know when someone compliments me on my writing or inspirational ramblings or whatever, I feel a little weird too. I always feel I have to push back their compliment with a, “Thank you. It’s okay.” Or, “Thank you but it’s nothing.” Of course, this is in person. When someone sends me an email complimenting me or praising me for my work or it is via technology, I get a huge smile on my face and tears start to well in my eyes. These are happy tears of course. I’m sure you all know exactly what I mean. It makes me wonder why it is so different in person than not in person. Is it because of how we are raised? Our culture?

I just wonder what the world would be like if we started to take out the negative news and all of the negative stories that run 24/7. I know for myself, when I watch the news in the morning, I literally want to stay inside my house and am terrified of the world. All from one 20 minute news segment.

I just wonder what the world would be like if we complimented people on their work more often instead of giving them sanctions or warnings for being sick too often or late too often. What if we also implemented NOT being sick often and NOT being late often? What if in school, it was a requirement of kids to keep a gratitude journal they have to fill out daily and a requirement to hand out 5 compliments a day? Teaching people to do these things once isn’t enough, teaching them to do it daily is everything. What if we also required volunteer work in schools to pass grades?

I have a great Aunt who is in an assisted living home and I do my best to go visit her every couple of weeks. She doesn’t have many visitors…..ever. Every time I go to see her, her eyes instantly light up and she gets a big smile on her face. She calls me her angel. And really, I don’t do much. I take an hour out of every two weeks to go visit her. But to her, it means the whole entire world. Enough to think I am an angel. Really think about that. I take ONE hour out of a couple weeks. It doesn’t take much to make someone feel special and loved.

My point, give out more compliments and praise to EVERYONE. Make it a daily practice. Be genuine. Be authentic. Just be kind. Daily.

*After I wrote this blog I attended a Crisis Core Training. In this training I learned, “The average child hears 432 negative statements per day compared to 32 positive ones.” (UWGB Health Training Partnership) Yes, we need to change this.

You be the change. I will be the change.

TLE with tlc