Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

It seems the natural thing to do.

When our team members (or children) succeed, we praise their ability or talent. 'That's great. You're obviously very good at problem-solving', or, 'Well done, you're very good with clients'.

What's wrong with praising their ability?

Praising ability can negatively impact performance

The research tells us that it's likely to reduce their performance. Many people become anxious about proving that we are justified in our lavish praise. Others assume that because they have 'natural' talent, they don't need to work at improving.

It's not what the self-esteem movement wants to hear, but many studies over many years have shown that praising ability or talent makes people less motivated, confident and resilient to setbacks.

What's a better approach to praise?

Instead, praise effort. 'I appreciated the effort you put into fixing the problem. You were very persistent and determined', or, 'I liked the way you kept calm with that customer and treated her with respect'.

About Ralph Brown

ralph brown blog3

Ralph is our founder and managing director. He has a background in psychology, television journalism and business.

Ralph's passions are psychology and writing. He leads workshops on both and speaks to conferences on the psychology of thriving at work.

In 2011  Professional Speakers Australia awarded him its top speaking accreditation, the CSP.

He has written six books and more than a hundred articles on psychology and writing. International research journals have published his articles reviewing the research on resilience.

Ralph enjoys trips to France. He lives in rural Canterbury.

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