Some years ago I was with a group of people and some of their children were playing football in the garden. As I passed by them one boy hit the ball with the outside of his foot and it spun in a kind of loop before bouncing off the post and into the goal. “Great goal” I said and smiled at the “star for a moment”,
Shortly afterwards they finished playing for a while and came inside to get some drinks and snacks. The boy came up to me and said, “Was it a great goal”. “Yes it was” I replied. “Was it a really really good goal”, he continued. “It certainly was excellent” I replied again. ” Did you think it was really good then” he persisted and I nodded gamely. “You thought it was good” he continued, in case I had missed some nuance in his original question. His small pale face with brown hair peered up at me eagerly: he seemed to be enjoying the conversation. He was too young to be rude to but in my mind he was gradually changing from a boy into a mosquito and his high-pitched buzzing round my head was beginning to unsettle me.
We all liked to be praised. I enjoy it and it’s an appetite I share with many. The key thing is, the unsolicited comment is much more powerful than the prompted one. Confirming that someone is the most talented, promising, skillful whatever as a result of their remorseless promptings is a lot less fun than spontaneously reacting to some outstanding characteristic or event. We all know that ,but sometimes people can’t wait for you to form your opinion demanding an “A” grade before you’ve caught your breath.
I feel the same when someone says, “I’ve had a great idea”. I agree that they’ve had an idea. Wether I think it is great is for me to say once I’ve heard it. Sometimes people don’t just have an opinion. They feel the need to sell it heaping superlatives on something you’ve yet to experience yourself until you wonder whether they are imposing the idea or opinion on you or themselves. Whatever the reason I always return to my original thought that praise or agreement gained as a result of someone listening or seeing for themselves is something worth having. The other experience merely gives the ” star for a moment” a brief sugar rush and you can be sure he will be back to you sooner rather than later requiring further recognition for his unquestioned brilliance. It’s all well and good but poor old me likes to have the facts without the advertising, as far as that is possible, and then come to my own conclusions. I’m sure I’m not alone