Most of us love praise — getting that gold star on the top of our homework. It takes skill to give someone praise in a meaningful way.
- Be specific. “Great job” is less satisfying than an enumeration of what, exactly, was done well.
- Remember the negativity bias. The “negativity bias” is a well-recognized psychological phenomenon: people react to the bad more strongly than to the comparable good. So if you want to praise someone, remember that one critical comment will wipe out several positive comments, and will be far more memorable.
- Praise the everyday. When people do something unusual, it’s easy to remember to give praise. But what about the things they do well every day? It never hurts to point out how much you appreciate the small tasks that someone unfailingly performs.
We often use loopholes to justify breaking our good habits. A popular loophole is the One-Coin Loophole. An ancient teach story asks, “Can one coin make a man rich?” You’d say no. But if you add one coin, then another, then another … a man becomes rich. In the same way, with habits, any one “coin” is insignificant, true, but we only develop good habits one “coin” at a time.
- I haven’t worked on that project for such a long time, there’s no point in working on it this morning.
- One beer won’t make a difference.
- What difference does it make if I spend this afternoon at the library or at home on my couch?
- Why wear a helmet today? What are the chances that I’m in an accident today?
A well-designed workspace and well-made instruments make work a joy — whether at the office of at home. What steps can you take to make your workspaces more comfortable and efficient? What tools might you invest in, to work more easily and with more satisfaction?
Every house needs an empty shelf, and every house needs a junk drawer. It’s good to have a bit of pure order — and also a bit of chaos someplace, with unexpected treasures.