Some of the greatest blessings in life lie in the expression of approval for something someone else has done. People need approval. People need to feel accepted. People need to know they are all right. People need to know that they are of worth and can do meaningful things. Genuine praise and encouragement become some of the greatest motivating tools in the world. Let us say something good about our family, friends, and even co-workers regularly. It will bless our lives as well as theirs. If we are in a leadership (especially parenting) position, we should continually praise, instruct, and then encourage. We will have a better relationship and all involved will find joy in the work. Remember that this is always motivated by the pure love of Christ with genuine concern for the welfare of others.
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25: 21). In the Savior’s parable we catch a glimpse of the grand feelings of satisfaction we will experience if we can endure to the end in valor and righteousness, being at last welcomed by the Lord and Master with acceptance and rejoicing. In smaller but still significant measure, we can lift up and encourage others along the highways and byways of life by recognizing their good desires and efforts frequently and praising them with sincerity and genuine respect.
“We enjoy life when we have the ability to praise others for their good works. George Matthew Adams said: ‘He who praises another, enriches himself more than he does the one praised. To praise is an investment in happiness. The poorest human being has something to give that the richest cannot buy’ (Howard W. Hunter April 26, 1961, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1961, 3).
“We build character as we encourage people to care for their own needs” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 365).
Consider the following five points when offering praise:
- Now—Procrastinated praise or delayed encouragement lose their power.
- Each day—Praise or encourage someone honestly and openly every day. Do it regularly.
- Be specific—Identify the precise behavior or result that has elicited your appreciation, referring to it directly.
- Do it with enthusiasm—It’s not always what you say, but how you say it, that conveys the true feelings.
- Be genuine—True praise is always sincere and honest.
- Use variety—In addition to telling someone they are appreciated, try showing appreciation through an appropriate small gift, a related news clipping, an email message, or a favor returned.
- With gratitude—Remember to receive praise from others with graciousness and appreciation.
3. What—Praise small things, not just great achievements.
4. Where—Don’t hesitate to do it in public, even within the earshot of others, as long as it doesn’t embarrass the person. “Advise your friends in private, but praise them openly” (Publilius Syrus).
- Everyone—Do it to strangers as well as friends. Look for something good about everyone you come in contact with.
- Your spouse—We often forget to give encouragement to the one closest to us.
- Especially children—Remember that children grow much faster with praise than criticism.
- Even your “enemies” —There is good in everyone. It will amaze you, often times, what effect genuine praise will have on those you consider not entirely your friends.
- Don’t forget Heavenly Father—Let God, “from whom all blessings flow,” also have your daily praise and thanks.
Praise can change the world
I wanted to be a basketball player as a young boy. Things had gone fairly well. I had made the varsity as a junior in high school. But in those years, even though I thought I was good, I didn’t play very much. I was seventh or eighth man on the team, playing just a few minutes a game. Then, our new coach, whose name was Don Snow said, “Ed, you are going to be great. You are going to be our center. You are going to be the captain of the team. We can be great, Ed, and you are going to be a big part of it.” Well, I was elated. I couldn’t believe it. All of a sudden, I was okay. I was a good ball player. My daddy had died when I was a little 12-year-old boy, so there wasn’t much support at home to be an athlete, but the gym wasn’t far from my home, and I used to just live there, shooting a few baskets, it being during the practice of the college team. Brigham Young University was right there in my hometown, and all I could think of was that someday I wanted to play ball for them.
Well, after Coach Snow gave me this new label, he praised me and he encouraged me constantly. He said, “You will be great.” I decided I was. Lo and behold, I became the league’s leading scorer and our team took second place in the state, and I was awarded all-state honors—and with it came a scholarship to BYU, my life-long dream. I’ll never forget the day, playing in Madison Square Garden, when the announcer said, “Starting tonight, number 34 and captain for tonight’s game, Ed Pinegar.” I ran out on that floor, my heart pounding, thinking this all happened because someone thought I was okay. Someone thought I was good. Praise can change the world. Criticism can destroy the world. Encourage and praise others—it’s almost a panacea for life when helping younger people. And it also works with adults when it is given genuinely and honestly. (Ed J. Pinegar)
Honest and genuine praise and encouragement can change the soul. Thanksgiving and gratitude expressed bring so much joy to the receiver as well as the giver. We surely should seek after praiseworthy things and bring joy to others as we practice the principle of praise and encouragement.
This article has been adapted from What We Need to Know and Do, by Ed J. Pinegar and Richard J. Allen.