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Praise an Adult: “You’re a good eater and sleeper.”

with 6 comments

And that’s saying something.

According to Mrs. Kirkistan, these are two of my (many?) positive traits:

You’re a good sleeper and a good eater.

She is right: I am. Both.

That’s the kind of stuff we say about an infant, in which case it is high praise indeed: getting that little human to sleep and eat bodes well for future growth. It’s some of the first stuff we can say with any authority about a newborn.

But we struggle to praise an adult.

If we look at those same qualities on the other end of the lifespan, “good sleeper” remains a positive. Older folks have a hard time sleeping (it turns out all sorts and ages of people have a hard time sleeping). What constitutes a “good eater” changes through the years as well. Moving from a voracious eater to a judicious eater seems an especially praiseworthy approach that can span the years.

Still, how can we offer praise to one another in a meaningful way? The trophy for “just showing up” is nearly worthless and most of us see through that. But acknowledging the contributions we each make goes a huge way toward helping each other find and lay hold of our better meaning-making activities.GreatBlur-05202015

Yesterday my client drew a red star next to a paragraph he liked. It’s a small thing, but in conversation I told him it was meaningful that he did that. Our best work, it seems, goes by mostly unremarked. That’s how we know it is good—no one says anything. This is in contrast to when we are kids and our parents praise us for picking up our toys or finishing our Brussel sprouts. Even in school we look for praise from teachers and professors to know that we are doing the right thing/on the right track. But most of life doesn’t work that way.

Giving feedback can help us close the circuit for each other. Even if barely acknowledged, a complement does a whole lotta good.

But it better be true. Otherwise it’s just pandering.

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

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6 Responses

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  1. great post

    weisserwatercolours

    May 20, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    • WeisserWaterColours–thanks very much for your comments and for stopping by. Your watercolor posts are extraordinary.

      kirkistan

      May 20, 2015 at 12:30 pm

  2. What else does one need in a partner?

    Sonya

    May 20, 2015 at 9:08 pm

  3. Your posts are always crisp and clean. And I’ve heard you’re a pretty good eater and sleeper. What more could there be?!

    createarteveryday

    May 20, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    • Very kind of you. And funny. My goal is to eat judiciously rather than voraciously.

      kirkistan

      May 20, 2015 at 9:20 pm


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