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Dating From the Inside Out
by Susan S. Davis

The Power of Praise in Relationships

It is no secret, that usually, one can get more from people, with honey, than with vinegar. And yet, few people focus on the positive in terms of their dealings with other people. Just as in friendships, any sort of romantic involvement, is bound to do better, with a more positive outlook, and more praise, than with criticism.

Where children are concerned, parents are often told of the dramatic effects of different types of praise, that can be had on a child's overall success. Specifically, when confronting new challenges, researchers have found that by praising children for their intelligence and effort, amazing affects in terms of their willingness to take on more difficult tasks, and the fact that they were less likely to become discouraged, can be accomplished easily.

Experiments involving students of every socioeconomic class, with both boys and girls, have shown the importance of praise. In addition, the concepts of "recognition" and "praise" have been recognized as two very important components for creating a positive impact in organizations and businesses.

Just as in raising children and running businesses, praise can positively impact any interpersonal relationship. Since praise has been documented as so important, it is interesting to address the reason why it is so often withheld. Unfortunately, it seems to be more often the case, that people believe a better performance or situation will result, from a more critical perception. Many people operate under the misguided conception that praising people will simply breed complacency or vanity.

Lack of praise, and repeated emphasis of negativity, can gradually contribute to the development of a way of thinking (conscious or otherwise) that indicates that something is not worth the effort, or a feeling of unworthiness, on a deeper level.

The word praise comes from the Latin verb "pretiare" (to value highly). It is generally noticed that those who know how to give praise, also hold themselves and others in high regard. This is because people who have the ability to offer praise, often find it easier to acknowledge mistakes and accept new challenges, since mistakes and uncertainty are not perceived as evidence of unworthiness.

Praise can recognize effort as well as achievement. It is especially important not to confuse pride or love, with what someone has or has not done correctly. Otherwise, it can become difficult to separate approval from the personal satisfaction to be gained from someone’s efforts.

In addition, trying not to delay praise, and giving credit where and when it is due, can go a long way toward avoiding misunderstandings and injured feelings. A good tactic is to acknowledge contributions as a normal part of a conversation, rather than being more obvious about it.

Finding different ways to recognize the good in people, can prevent praise from becoming mundane. Some ways may include honoring someone's achievement with a special dinner, outing or an amusing story or poem.

Shakespeare has written, "There's not one wise person among twenty that will praise himself," which is ironic, given the fact that many of his characters were not very content. Recognizing the good in others is easier, when we can see it in ourselves.

So, how can we go about beginning to change a strategy to focusing on the positive, from the negative? Begin by viewing the 'Big Picture.' Whenever the "little critic" starts rehashing faults, reverse the thought, realizing what the real issue is, rather than focusing on minute details that have little impact on the process as a whole, of what it is that you are trying to accomplish.

One of the most important people you will ever praise in your life, is yourself. Regularly praising yourself for the steps that you make in exercising good judgment, or for any action you have taken towards meeting a goal, can establish habits that will foster further success, at whatever you wish to accomplish. In addition, it will be easier to find good things to recognize in others.

Just as in business, people who have successful interpersonal relationships often are habitual in doing an "inventory" of their lives, where they review current events; note how people reacted towards them and where improvement may be needed, and where they can give themselves praise. It is just as important to praise for small improvements, as well as big ones. Confidence can grow, in accordance with improvements.

In the dating world, the impact that you can make on someone, simply from the way you interact with them, is enormous. You may not ever realize the influence that you have over some, as well as the influence others have over you. And it is basically all accomplished by language and communication, the investment of which usually reaps over a thousand fold. Anyone who understands the “pay it forward” theory, can attest to that.

While you may not be able to change the attitudes of everyone, you can encourage all of the people you deal with, on some level. And from that vantage point, it will be easy to see how well your positive and encouraging praise, can influence those around you, and yourself. The final benefit on interpersonal relationships, is that like begets like.

Therefore, any positive praise that you indulge in a potential new friend, can grow into a deeper relationship, as well as having a better chance of becoming the type of romantic involvement that you really want in your life.

Susan S. Davis is a published book author and writer, currently doing research for a romantic screenplay she is writing. Her Dating From The Inside Out column is published every Tuesday.

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