Breedlove's Briefing: How We Process Praise

September 9 - Stephanie Breedlove

Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.

I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!

Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.

This Week’s Must-Read:

How Our Brains Process Praise and Why It’s Killing Our Potential

Who it’s for:

Everyone. We all want to use praise (and criticism) correctly to grow our careers.

Why it’s important:

Our perception of praise and the value we derive from it may not be accurate. Praise is incredibly important to understand and to value correctly, but maybe we should prioritize criticism as far more valuable.

News flash: People love praise. They love being told that they’re doing a good job, that their effort is appreciated, and that they are a valuable member of the team. They love it so much, that we have embedded praise deeply into our culture.

When your brain gets a reward (like praise), it learns to do that action again. Praise is a great way to reinforce a particular behavior. But, repetition builds habits, not growth. Your ability to advance in your career (and your ability to advance your subordinates careers) rests on improvement. You need to discover skills that you don’t yet have and which skills need improvement.

The most skilled people have something in common. They love to be critiqued. They use criticism constructively.

In order to use criticism effectively, it is crucial to start by understanding your own reaction to it. You may feel a blow to your self-esteem. It can be physically painful to find out that you need improvement. That pain can quickly turn to anger, a defensive posture, and even lashing out.

Here is a system for using criticism to your advantage:

  1. When you receive a critique, start by smiling (even if you have to force it). Be thankful for the feedback. You might even ask a few questions to understand better. Resist the urge to explain away the lack of skill. Just listen.
  2. Don’t do anything for at least a day. Get a good night’s sleep. It turns out that sleep actually helps you to separate the emotional reaction to a situation from the conceptual content of the event.
  3. Pay attention to what you were told. Have you heard this before? Perhaps you are learning something new about yourself. Try to notice this lack of skill for yourself.
  4. Work to improve. Find a colleague, friend, coach or mentor. Have them work with you to support your growth.

If you put this plan into action, you’ll make some remarkable discoveries.

  1. You will get a lot more productive in your work.
  2. You’ll learn to be less sensitive to other people’s criticisms.
  3. You’ll become more self-aware. After all, you observe more of your own behavior than anyone else. The more you notice limitations in what you can do, the more opportunities for growth you create.

Top Take-Away: Skills not yet developed or honed = opportunity, not weakness. Let praise boost your confidence and allow criticism to spur growth.

Very interesting topic. A few more that just scratch the surface:

Praising for Effort Not Intelligence

What’s the Worst Kind of Praise You Can Give?

Criticism Is the Price of Success – Prepare for It and Profit from It

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