In Principle 5 we shared how the only way to win an argument is by not having one.

Principle 6 advises us to:

Praise the slightest and every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation, and lavish in your praise.

I just returned from a week of training with current and former Navy Seals. Among the lessons imparted was how to build a fire. As every Boy (and Girl) Scout knows, any campfire begins with a spark that ignites a tinder box to create an ember, and to which increasingly robust fuel is added. It can be a subtle and painstaking process to create a sustainable flame. Place too much (or wet) fuel on a fledgling flame, and you may well snuff it out permanently.

A person’s self image and confidence are like the flame that craves fuel to build itself into a roaring, self sustaining source of energy. Too little positive (or any negative) feedback risks extinguishing the flame. Too much praise at once can seem inauthentic and yield the opposite effect.

The rate at which praise is given depends upon the situation and the person, and is where the art of influencing people comes in.

Those who can sift through the criticism to glean and share that small kernel of sincere praise possesses an invaluable skill, that is, in my opinion, the essence of true leadership.

Stay tuned for Principle 7, which is to:

Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.

by Danny Bobrow

 
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