My minister used to give what he called “The Big But” sermon. (No lie! It actually kinda made me feel better that even ministers recycle speeches.) The Big But sermon in its most basic format is this: whenever you say something positive followed by “but” and something negative, the person listening only hears the negative.
Example “Child 1 you showed great improvement in your math scores, but what is this low P.E. grade all about?” Child 1 hears “Dude, you suck at P.E.” At least I’m certain that is the phrase my kids say in their head since I’m known for overuse of the word dude around them (still workin’ on uppin’ my street cred!)
This example is actually one of the huge arguments I had with the former Mr. on a regular basis. In fact just this week, 4 years post divorce when he was telling me about the boys report cards from the last term, “Child 1 you went up in everything and had great scores, but your P.E. grade fell.” DUDE, I bit my tongue and nearly drew blood holding back the words I wanted to scream “CAN’T YOU JUST TELL HIM HE DID SOMETHING RIGHT WITHOUT POINTING OUT WHAT HE DID WRONG????”
I digress…happens to the best of us divorced folks!
Basically the point of my minister’s sermon and something I have tried to put into practice with the kids and in every other relationship in my life is this: Sometimes it just needs to be about the praise!
Not every incident needs to be a learning experience, not every flaw needs to be pointed out….sometimes it just needs to be about the praise!
“Wow, you did an awesome job on the picture!” – to a child
“You look amazing!” – to the person who has been working her ass off in my weights class for 6 months
“Thank you for all of the help today! The store ran so much better because of you!” – to the employee who often needs a lot of direction
I know that I do not always practice “the praise”…sometimes I get bogged down, irritated, annoyed and generally fed up with life, and my conversations are full of “big buts”. And other times life does need to be about the learning…
…But I try!
I was reminded of the Big But sermon today at work when I received the following email from the V.P. of Retail for my company:
Missy—LOVE reading this!! This is the type of service we want to consistently be known for across the company! You’ve set the bar high!
His email to me, along with the one I received from the Head of Operations, was in response to this email sent to the corporate office:
Date: Tue, Jul 9, 2013 at 3:05 PM
Subject: Outstanding Customer Service – Merrimack (New Hampshire) Premium Outlet – Asics Store
I am writing in hopes that Executive Management responsible for the Asics Outlet Store in Merrimack (New Hampshire) will hear about the outstanding service extended to its customers by the Store Manager, Missy and her team. Our initial telephone inquiry about available volleyball footwear and apparel with Missy, led to a road trip from Boston, Massachusetts to the Asics outlet (only outlet store in the Northeast). It presented the opportunity to observe in person how professional and knowledgeable Missy is in her interaction with customers and her mentoring of her staff. Its clear her staff members hold her in high regard and her work ethics inspires them.
Although volleyball is just coming of age in the Northeast as compared with other regions in the US, there is an opportunity for Asics to capture market growth/share over competitors such as Mizuno. We have become acquainted with the Asics brand through the generous support Asics has provided to a top NCAA D3 Volleyball team that our older daughter is currently a member. Although Northeast volleyball clubs typically order Mizuno products for its players, we seek out Asics products for our younger daughter where and whenever we can. PLEASE send more volleyball products to your Merrimack store. With Missy and her staff as representatives for Asics, its a real commercial opportunity Asics should capitalize upon!
I remember this woman. I don’t remember going out of my way or doing anything special for this woman, just doing my job. Apparently though, just doing my job meant something to this customer and she made it about the praise.
My boss told me about a LinkedIn article she read recently that was discussing writing recommendations. The writer of the article implied that it says much more about the character of the person who writes the recommendation than the person receiving it.
Giving praise is not something that we put into practice towards our peers, is it?
How many times have you written an email complaining about poor customer service? How many times have you sought out a manager to complain about an employee? How often do you tell others in your circle about a bad experience you had with a certain company as a warning not to use that service?
…you’re thinking right?!
Now think about this – How many times have you written an email like the one above? How often do you seek out the manager at the grocery store to compliment the clerk who went out of his way to find a product for you? How often to you hand out written compliments to friends just for being your friend?
How often do you make it about the praise?
Life is hard. For some life seems harder than others. No one knows how another person feels in any given situation. Every situation in life teaches us something, but it doesn’t always need to be an “in-your-face” lesson.
…there is one thing that I do know with certainty, if each of us took a little more time in our lives to make it about the praise – not just when people are at their lowest, but even when they are just going about their daily lives – what a different world this might be in which to live. Sometimes it just needs to be about the praise…
“Praise More People Than You Criticize” ~Baylor Barbee