Praise in Public, Correct in Private

The Public Speaker's mantra about giving criticism and praise.

Lisa B. Marshall
1-minute read

If you want to truly motivate someone, praise them in public. I’ll never forget the day Chris Brogan (who’s a well-known social media figure) praised me on Twitter. I felt inflated by his comment. I had a big smile on my face and as a bonus, I had 35 new followers within 5 minutes of his tweet. It was like a gift--a gift of thoughtfulness--that didn’t cost him much but a few seconds of time.

However, I also remember the very first (and luckily only) public tweet I received that was negative. It was clearly intended to be destructive. I wasn’t even sure exactly what I had done to earn such a negative, hurtful reaction because the tweet wasn’t specific.  Eventually I received one or two private emails from other listeners that very clearly and gently described a pronunciation error I’d made. I was only able to improve after I understood exactly what I needed to fix. As I mentioned in my subsequent episode about proper pronunciation, it stung a little, but ultimately I’m grateful that a few listeners cared enough to share with me their stories of mispronunciation and helped me to not make that mistake again.

So, the rule is: praise in public and provide corrective feedback in private (and in person, if at all possible). Sending an email should be a last resort --only if the other ways are impossible. Certainly, tweeting constructive feedback is out of the question—that is IF your goal is to motivate a change in behavior.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.