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Nathan Zhang

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Is "word inflation" on praises and an excess of "great job" comments degrading to our society?

As I grew up, I got disparaging remarks after bad assignments and encouragement after good completions, yet I notice today that many teachers say "good job" even though the child's work is less than satisfactory (even the teachers' show it). I wonder if this has a degrading effect on our future societal development (I worry about having a bunch of employees who can't take criticism.) Just for reference, I think it is having an impact, as I now meet children who cry after not getting a reward for homework completion.

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    Aug 5 2011: i think if its not honest, you are not doing any goood.
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    Aug 2 2011: Your question reminded me of George Carlin. He defended exactly that this thing of not criticizing would ultimately lead to people being underachievers. Carlin commented on the fact that nowadays people don't lose in school competitions, they're the "last winners".

    To some extent, I agree with Carlin. Although worrying about children's self-esteem is a valid, noble concern, I think people should be prepared to know that we are not perfect, that we need to constantly seek for improvement in everything we do. We must be able to listen to negative feedback and recognize in it opportunities to enhance ourselves.

    Results do matter in the real life, it's not only about the effort you put into tasks.
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    Aug 2 2011: For me it depends on the sincerity and honesty of the person speaking the words. I had a boss for 15 years that never said an encouraging thing but one time when I was able to bail him out of trouble. I would have appreciated an encouraging word. Critique can be done positively like I try to do with my students as a teacher. I try to find the good they do and then show how what is weaker can be made better and that they re capable of doing it. Hope this helps
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    Aug 5 2011: Words of encouragements are good. A variety of them, with honesty, would be better.
  • Aug 3 2011: I find it extremely interesting to see things from the other side, as I have realized that many great teachers compliment as well as get results, but I remember from an episode of "Freakonomics" (so take it with a grain of salt) that said children who were only complimented actually tended to end up in therapy. Just my two cents out of the twenty dollars here.
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    Aug 3 2011: Firstly I have to admit that it took 2 days for me to fully understand the subject.'' The world inflation and an excess on great jobs '' was the first thing I got. I think I have to improve my English daily.

    Whatever... On the core subject, Your observation is fully valid. But I am not sure about your predictions. In work, I use to motivate my juniors in the same way with the teachers you mentioned. If they deliver the copies that they are assigned for, I say great job or similar things and then start to criticize the content honestly but in a positive way. Because I believe that if we appreciate things that we ask for we may have a motivating affect on people whom we interact daily. Maybe I am so naive I don't know.
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    Aug 2 2011: Absolutely NOT.
    If our world needs anything it needs more sincere encouragement.
    I just read a great book by the father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman. I have followed his research since the mid 1970's and the man has instinct for digging out the truth that will move human understanding forward. I am no Pollyanna but we should definately listen to this guy.
    His new book is called 'Flourishing' - a visionary new understanding of happiness and well being'.

    In it he reports solid research on the 'Losada ratio'. Any relationship that slips below 3 positive comments for every critical one is in trouble. We cannot continue to say "Good job' as some sort of reflex expression but rather we need to begin to tell people positive truth.

    From my own observations, though, we tend to trust and believe and allow negative feedback to impact us. We tend to dwell on it but we dismss positive feedback like compliments. What makes a compliment believable though? For me the answer is sincerity and detail. Good job is a throw away statement but something like " You really make a difference when you listen to those irate customers and ensure that they are satisfied. I enjoy seeing that outcome and I really enjoy working with you." We can all do better in making the people in our lives feel not only seen, not only appreciated but truly valued.
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    Aug 2 2011: People these days are always seeking instant self gratification because they are a participant instead of a winner or loser. A loser worker hard to become a winner and a winner never at the top for ever. We are getting to PC with it might hurt some ones feeling