Perhaps non-intuitively, seeking praise doesn’t bring a lot of it. More actively giving praise may actually increase your admiration (and praise) in the end.
Being an Expert
When you’re an expert, your advice is sought. When you’re around, people defer to you. You have built up loads of experience, so of course people should be magnetized to glean something from you.
How cool is it, then, when the expert in the room starts deferring to others?
I was sitting in the audience for a tech talk recently, and the speaker indicated that he had learned what he was speaking about from someone in the audience. When pressed for his opinion, that expert in the audience had some nice things to say about his apprentice and the work he had done. He did admit that he had done a fair amount of what was being demonstrated on-screen. But this only gave more credence to his next remarks, where he proceeded to give a couple very generous and concrete compliments to this speaker and held up the solution we were all seeing as something at the head of the pack and worth our attention. I didn’t know this expert very well, but my estimation of him went up because of this generous praise he gave another.
Hog vs. Give
When we hog praise, we look like we need it. We look needy and groveling. If we take it when it comes, graciously, and otherwise just do our best at our thing, praise will follow true achievement.
When we give praise away, we generate it – we create new praise, an environment of praise. In such an environment we may have the pleasure of having some praise reflected back on us.
The next time you’re recognized as an expert in the room, thanked for all you’ve contributed, after you say “thank you”, what will you say next?