In Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being, positive psychology expert Shawn Achor reveals his top strategies for achieving success in your career and personal life. His secret? Build other people up first. After traveling to 50 countries to study the hallmarks of the world’s most successful people, Achor concluded that they all were extremely connected to their communities. They found unparalleled happiness, well-being, and prosperity in bolstering others. With this exclusive excerpt, Achor shares a quick mindset tweak that will bring more fulfillment and connection to your life and the lives of others.
The worst piece of praise I’ve sometimes received after a talk is "You were the best speaker today." What’s so bad about that? you ask. Well, first of all, it undercuts all the other speakers. What if another speaker was standing next to me? Moreover, it reminds me of the fact that in many cases I won’t be the best speaker, so now I feel nervous and self-conscious. Instead of enhancing me, this comment unbalances me in the future.
This is an example of one of the most common mistakes I see people make with praise: giving such compliments as "Your report was better than Jack’s" or "You’re the smartest person in the room" or "You were the best player out there on the field." Why? Because what you are actually doing is comparing, not praising. You are attempting to prop people up by kicking others down! Real praise is telling someone "Your report was amazing," or "The comedic timing of your speech was perfect," not telling them that their report or their speech was better than another person’s.
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