By Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
I think that craving for praise is human ture. We all want admiration for doing something well. It may be anything under the sun-gardening, knitting, cooking, music or even looking nice and glamorous. Everyone becomes happy if somebody admires his/her performance or even looks. Some people say that only women want compliments for their skill or looks. But I do not agree. Craving for praise is not merely a woman's trait. Men also like to be praised for their achievements. You may call it a human weakness or even a blemish, if you wish. But whatever you say, it is a fact that human beings do need praise for doing something well. Praise is like a tonic for us and it gives impetus to do something even better than before.
I have a friend who has green fingers and she loves gardening. But in this city of multistoried buildings you rarely get a chance to demonstrate your gardening skill due to paucity of open space. But this friend of mine has created wonder in the roof garden she has designed at her home. She showed me her garden recently and I was fascited at the sight of the beautiful flowers and vegetables she had grown. There were dahlias, marigolds, roses, begonias and some other flowers. And on the other side she had planted some vegetables. And the wonder of wonders was that she had also grown some ba plants. Some of them had long bunches of bas hanging down. It looked so enchanting that I felt as if I was in a wonder land. It was a bewitching sight for sore eyes. It is unusual to see a garden in this concrete city of ours, where you see nothing but skyscrapers. She gave me some vegetables and flowers from her garden. I was turally delighted with the unexpected gift. The green leaves looked fresh and crisp. I told her in real pleasure that they were much better than anything one could buy in the market and admired her gardening skill. I was sincerely grateful for her gift, but what touched me most was her delighted expression on hearing my few words of praise, which she really deserved. Her gardening skill was superb and she created luscious vegetables and colourful flowers from a handful of seeds. She did deserve admiration.
We all know that one of the deepest aspect of human ture is a craving to be appreciated. Every one of us need to be praised for doing something well. Praise makes us happy and we try to do whatever we are doing even better. You can see that even a difficult child turns into an angel the moment the mother praises him for doing something well. Actually any kind of praise makes a person even better than before.
That being so I wonder why we are so stingy in giving praise to the deserving person. turally not all of us (either children or adults) are qualified to shine or win any glittering prizes. Only a few persons can perform brilliantly in life. They are talented persons-and most of us belong to that "average ordiry group", from whom nobody expects brilliance or excellence. But still I do believe that every person has some special ability to do something well, which deserves appreciation. Praise gives a big boost to the person concerned to do better than before.
Every person enjoys the feeling of happiness, when he gets praise from some others. It may not be something extraordiry, but still it is an achievement for the doer, however small and insignificant it may be. Some ladies have magic in their fingers and create fantasy in their knitting or embroidery, some can concoct delicious and exotic meals from the most ordiry ingredients. Some men can do wonders in their gardens, some are handy with tools and may give a new look to any broken furniture, some others may have the skill to make various electrical gadgets. Some may have the special ability to cope with any problem come what may. They have abundant self-confidence in themselves. They are not much-you might say; but they are some kind of achievement which we cannot deny. Every person cannot be a genius, but usually every one can do something really well. For that they certainly deserve praise. Women like to be complimented on looking good-and perhaps so do men. Then why not compliment them? After all, it costs us nothing and it may give abundant happiness to someone else. That is really a great thing. If you can make somebody happy by uttering a few words of praise, then why not do it. We ourselves will feel happy if others are also happy.
But nobody is grateful for insincere flattery, which does not do the least good to anybody. In a way it is harmful to the person concerned, as it gives only a false feeling of achievement to him, which rather damages his self-esteem.
Everyone likes to be appreciated for doing something nice. Even the most efficient and self-confident persons are encouraged to do better than what they are doing, when they get recognition and appreciation for their skill. Then imagine how much more that encouragement and appreciation are needed by those who find themselves "square pegs" wobbling uncertainly in the "round holes". They will progress only if their simple activities are appreciated and encouraged with simple words of praise from time to time. If they do not get it, they may wither away as the flower does in the absence of sunlight. At least we should appreciate their efforts to make them do better.
By thoughtless remarks we often destroy the confidence of a child. Sometimes some child is called "difficult" in a family, simply because he has no inclition to follow the footsteps of the father. But that certainly cannot be regarded as a deficiency in the child. Why not let him take his own chosen path and appreciate his skill in that direction? Because he has chosen an alien field, he should not be termed as a failure. It is a destructive policy adopted by the parents. By criticizing and berating the child's propensity to do something according to his choice, the parents merely destroy the talent of the child, besides engendering his resentment and frustration.
Uware of the damage they do, parents often pay more attention to the child who toes the line marked by them, and praise him to the hilt, forgetting that their behaviour will somehow make the other one excluded from the family. turally he becomes rebellious and he or she will try to get attention by following a perilous way, which may be dangerous in the long run. So often the tantrums, mischievousness, showing off, are their way of telling their parents that they too want their proper place in the family and do not want to feel the second best. They assert in their own way that they too have the ability to do something really well and deserve to be appreciated. They demonstrate in no uncertain terms that parents must concede to their demands, without trying to impose their will on them.
The mother should realize that though she gave birth to the child, she must not think him or her to be an extension of herself. Once the child is born he is a separate individual. He grows up with ideas of his own. The father also should acknowledge the fact that his son or daughter may not accept his command, but that does not make the child a failure. There should be mutual discussions amongst them to avoid acrimony and bring peace to the household. It will also help the child to build up a successful life in future. Praise is essential to give confidence to the child and to bolster his self-esteem.
It is not only in the family circle that we need to be careful, but outside as well. I have a friend, who is one of the kindest women imagible. She is so affectiote that she would not even hurt a fly. Yet one day I heard her praising the daughter of one of the ladies with whom she was talking. She was commenting enthusiastically on the beautiful appearance and grace of the lady's daughter, seemingly uware of the plain and plump teege daughter of the other lady, who was listening too. The girl looked so sad and embarrassed that my heart went out to her in pity. Her mother too seemed to be very distressed. Soon the mother-daughter duo left. The strangest part of the whole thing was that my friend, who is usually so observant and intelligent, did not even realise that she had committed a kind of social solecism. I did not enlighten her, as I was sure that if I had pointed out to her that she had offended the lady unintentiolly, she would have felt very sad on learning that she had humiliated the other lady and her daughter idvertently. But I do think that we should be very careful in what we say, because it may hurt somebody else.
I still remember with painful clarity the adverse comment in my school report decades back, regarding my handwriting and drawings, which has the power to weaken my confidence even now. My handwriting is still atrocious and regarding drawing the less said the better. That event which occurred long back is still fresh in my mind. Perhaps if I had received a little appreciation on some other subjects in which I had done well, that is, appreciation for what I could do and less criticism for what I could not, I too could have been successful in rectifying my defective handwriting. But it is too late for me to think about it and make myself miserable. An ounce of praise is worth a hundred times more than a ton of criticism. Actually criticism may be of two kinds-constructive and destructive. Constructive criticism is beneficial, while destructive criticism is very harmful and it can destroy whatever talent somebody has.
Children need praise and encouragement to build up their future life successfully and to bolster their self-confidence. Even adults need it to make them happy and confident. No one is good at everything, but everyone is good at something, however simple or mundane it may be. It is very true that appreciation will not make us do what we are incapable of doing, but it can make us do better what we are capable of doing. It is only tural that there are certain things which we cannot do, and praise cannot make us do it. But a little amount of appreciation makes us more determined to do what we are capable of doing in a much better way.
A child swells with pride if he gets a pat in the back for his efforts at doing something. So do the adults. Every individual craves for praise. It is human ture and there is nothing wrong and no conceit in this attitude. It is also a recognized fact that a little bit of praise gives us confidence and makes us more determined to be more efficient and hard-working. Some teachers do immense harm to a student by levelling harsh criticism on his work. Usually students in each school have average intelligence. Some are born intelligent, but some do not have that advantage. They have to make more efforts to be at par with the more intelligent children. If they try hard they are sure to come out successful. If the teacher encourages and praises him for his efforts, he will definitely do much better in his next attempt. Praise is like a tonic to improve the mental prowess of the child. Physicians prescribe tonic to the patients for the improvement of their physical health and some psychologists prescribe praise for the improvement of mental health. And the best part of it is that you don't have to spend money on it. But on the other hand, you have to pay a heavy price for the tonic you buy at the pharmacy. Praise costs you nothing, yet it is a wonderful tonic to give a big boost to the mental aptitude of the child and to lift his spirit to an unbelievable height. Praise really creates wonders. Praise your child for doing something well and see what kind of excellent result that will produce.
Everyone of us need praise for better performance. If you offer a tasty meal to your family, you deserve praise and should get it. May be, after sweating for hours in the kitchen you have prepared a new and succulent dish, consulting some recipe. How would you feel if the members of your family just gobble up the food and leave the table without a word of praise? turally you will feel distressed and displeased, as you skill and efforts were not appreciated. Perhaps after that slight you would never attempt to cook some delectable dish for your family. It will be their loss, hence they should not be stingy in offering praise to the deserving person.
Women sometimes resent the fact that in spite of her hard work in keeping the house in good order, preparing meals and looking after every one's needs, she rarely gets a word of appreciation. The family takes many things for granted as their due, as though the work done by the lady of the house is nothing of value. That is not true. The lady does everything possible for the good of the family. She keeps herself busy with hard work throughout the day. Hence the person who does so much for her family certainly deserves praise. It is due to her untiring efforts that the family members are happy and comfortable and peace prevails at home. The husband brings home his friends and it becomes the duty of the wife to entertain them. She does so much for the family, yet her efforts and contributions remain unrecognized and uppreciated. A little bit of praise will go a long way in giving her the pleasure of feeling needed and loved by the members of her family. All her tiredness, boredom, resentment disappear the moment her family appreciates her efforts. It is not only the woman, but man also wants praise for doing something really well.
Only a little bit of praise is needed to make a person happy. It is not at all a difficult thing to do. Hence I believe that we should be generous enough in giving praise to the deserving ones for their efforts to do something well. Everybody, old or young, needs appreciation. It is such a simple thing to do, yet it goes a long way in spreading joy, good will and harmony. In fact, a few words of praise can do lots of good for lots of people. So knowing how nice and reassuring it is to receive praise, let us make sure not to be parsimonious in giving it freely. As Abraham Cowley wrote,
"Nothing so soon the drooping spirits
As praises from the men whom
All men praise."
So let us praise anybody who deserves it. I think it will make all of us happy. If a simple word of praise can create so much good will and joy, it is worth trying. Don't you think so, dear reader?