Today, I found myself on the receiving end of many compliments. It doesn’t happen often. However, today was different to most days.
I had organised a huge school event, stressed about it for days, weeks and even months. To receive such praise was really welcome and made me feel pleased about the amount of effort I’d gone to and the endless fretting.
I’m always open about my battle with anxiety. Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve had to fight demons linked to not being good enough and not being liked. In addition to those, which I think are quite normal concerns actually, I also worry about the unknown. New places, new people and new situations can lead to sleepless nights, a pounding chest and becoming hot and bothered. Most of the time, I hide it well and can put my confident facade on. However, when my mental health has hit a low point, I struggle to even do that.
No one will be surprised that I found today a struggle. I worried that people would drop out (I had a contingency plan in place in case they did though). I worried that I hadn’t planned enough. I worried that the volunteers would feel out of their depth. Basically, I worried about every single little thing.
As soon as I arrived in school, I set to work. Everyone I met greeted me kindly, knowing how I was feeling, and gently, my anxiety eased throughout the course of the morning. As people began praising my choice of volunteers and the incredible work they were doing, I felt my mood lifting. Seeing the amazing graphic recording and the impact this work was having on our pupils, my mood lifted further. When fellow staff members shared stories of success and achievement, my mood continued to lift. In fact, I was close to tears knowing that everything I had done was worth it.
Praise can be a powerful thing and, when done in a sensible way, it can have such an impact on someone’s mood and the way they think about themselves.
Who can benefit from praise?
- Our children
Praising our children for their achievements and general being is a fabulous thing to do. Certificates and stickers from school are great and usually indicative of academic or sporting achievement. However, what about praising your children for other things?
- Being kind and helpful: “Wow. Well done, Jack. You shared beautifully with your sister!”
- Demonstrating road safety knowledge: “Well done for waiting safely until the green man appeared.”
- Being patient: “Well done for waiting while I fed your sister. Now it’s your turn.”
- Our partner
It is very easy to fall into a rut when it comes to the people we love the most in life. Taking things that they do and are for granted happens often. Thanking them for the effort they put in and going the extra mile really will help them to feel valued.
- Our colleagues
How often do you see a colleague do something and you immediately think, “I wish I’d thought of that!”? This happens regularly, but if you don’t tell them that you think the did a good job, they may be just like me and doubt themselves. Seeing good practice and ideas you’d like to transfer to your own work ought to lead to automatic praise. The balance between this and coming across as patronising is important to find though. Try something like “I really liked the way you dealt with X and I’m going to try using your technique next time I’m dealing with X. Well done – that was fantastic!”