In Search of Praise

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


About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in creative writing, Life, life2, Relationships, Talent and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to In Search of Praise

  1. —It’s nice to be appreciated. For Sure.
    But praise makes me quite uncomfortable & embarrassed. 🙂


  2. Miss Emm says:

    I think complements boost our ego. They make us feel important. Special in some sort of a way.


  3. Caroline says:

    I totally agree CD. I fear I may be guilty at times of seeking praise. But the unsolicited praise or recognition given in either the spontaneity of the moment or when least expected counts much more and is therefore more appreciated as it so much more genuine. Thank you for reminding me.


  4. ElizOF says:

    I had to chuckle about that kid slowly turning into a buzzing mosquito… it is odd when people take a kind compliment and dissect it for more meaning; missing the point of the original kindness. 🙂


  5. says:

    I find people in general need encouragement sometimes on a minute, daily or hourly basis. I think that’s the addictive part of blogging, it’s a great platform for praise. Although, I find it goes in waves, as does life. You write, a lot of people wonder when you are going to publish something. Well, I think you are doing so daily, and a great job at it as well, giving a positive contribution to out world. I don’t think you could ask for much more.



    • Yes I think we do all need encouragement, and I am always pleased to give it. However I want it t be genuine and from the heart, and not sort for praise given as a result of pressure or whatever.


  6. Barbara says:

    I was visiting a friend of mine shortly after her husband had suddenly died at 50 years old. They were a great couple and I was concerned for her. We went out to dinner and while waiting at the bar for our table, and having a cocktail, a man sidled up to her and started putting the moves on. I watched this wondering if he was going to ask her out, and if he did if she would agree.

    I heard him say to her, “So, what do you look for in a man?” She never missed a beat, she said, “I need to be adored.”

    I wished I’d thought of that a long time ago! It really is what we all want. Though maybe not on a first encounter.


  7. As someone who has sought approval from others as a life’s mission, I find your essay today quite interesting. I’m working on something Buddhists call “equanimity”–a steady attitude of not being flustered by what others around you are doing/saying. Their opinions (good or bad) are not the focus any more; my efforts to do my best at this moment are my focus. That’s the attitude I’m aiming for. It’s a lofty one for me and it will be a long journey. but I’m making strides in that direction.


  8. Julie says:

    What a post! What do you think about my comment? 🙂


  9. Judith says:

    Perhaps that small boy lacked encouragement at home and because you gave it to him he latched onto you. Yes, it is annoying when something like this happens but just think, you made that child’s day with your comment. 🙂


  10. I think the same line as Judith maybe he received a lot pressure at home and no praise. I’m sure your comment made his week 🙂


  11. Appreciation goes a long way.. definitely. But what I’ve learned is.. if you don’t know or appreciate yourself, you’ll always look for someone to validate you or stroke your ego. When you know yourself, a compliment is even sweeter. Love this post.


  12. renxkyoko says:

    The problem nowadays is that people tend to speak in superlatives… “That’s great ! Awesome ! ” People even use the word “hero” so casually. I mean, everyone’s a hero, like the person who saved a cat that couldn’t go down a tree, or the basketball player who scored the winning points….. so what do we call a person who gave his life to save a human being ?


  13. nelle says:

    Seeking such is a function of insecurity, one of the most powerful forces at work amongst human beings. Show me history through the filter of insecurity, and the official explanations in our texts will seem woefully inadequate.

    With most of us, the root is important, why it feels a need to absorb at such a prodigious rate. I’ve lived that life, lived in a world where I hid and projected façade, a world where validation was feeding a boiler developed to run on an altogether different fuel. When I see someone in need of such ego feeding support, my mind tries to look further and deeper, seeing why they hurt.


  14. Shonnie says:

    I seriously feel that we just do not get enough praise. I am a critical (in appraisal, but not mean) person and I have started to reach out and tell people when I think something awesome and amazing about them. I think too often we all go from day to day starved for appreciation. I just think a kind word of something true … even if it does breed a monster or pest for a moment needs to shared … life is just so hard. Thanks for the lovely thoughs Ducky! Love reading what is resting in your head.


  15. Dawne Webber says:

    My youngest child (about the age of the boy in your post) resembles the mosquito you described. If she hears someone else being complimented she needs to pipe up and make sure she’s complimented for the same thing. I wonder where she gets it from. As the youngest of five she’s definitely not ignored and she gets her fair share of praise. I also wonder how to dissuade her from asking for compliments because it’s not appropriate without making her feel that she’s not worthy of the compliment.


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