When is praise not really praise after all? Jill Geisler of the Poynter Institute has a podcast called What Great Bosses Know where she recently spoke about what she calls “Praise Erasers.” The information presented was meant for employers but it certainly applies to coaches as well.
Geisler says there are 5 Praise Erasers that actually turn praising your players into a negative experience. They are:
Praise that sounds controlling. Praise while reminding your players who is still boss. “Great job running the offense! See what happens when you do it my way?”
Praise that sounds condescending. Talking down to your players. “For someone who doesn’t have much court sense you really did a good job breaking that press!”
Praise that is self involved. Making the praise all about you. “Great game! Reminds me of the time I scored 30 points against Ocean View High, only I didn’t miss quite as many shots as you did. Anyway, if you can keep playing as well as I did when I was your age, you have a chance to be pretty good.”
Praise that is really bait & switch. Starts as praise but turns into an assignment. “ Great job shooting the ball last night. In fact you shot so well why don’t you set up the clock, sweep the gym floor and fill up all the water coolers so everyone else can get some extra shots in.”
Praise with a big BUT. Starts as praise but ends as criticism. “Way to go! You really pulled the game out for us in crunch time BUT next time don’t wait so long before you start playing well!”
Do you praise your players using any of these methods? It’s been said that people love material rewards but will crawl over broken glass for one single, sincere compliment. Is your “praise” building your players up or actually tearing them down?
To read more of Jill’s excellent leadership advice, check out her book called What Great Bosses Know.