Hearty in your approbation

Earlier we looked at Dale Carnegie’s classic, How to win friends and influence people, Mr Carnegie highlights one of the principles of good human interactions and that of successful people as being “Lavish in your praise and hearty in approbation” Let’s look at the second part of that.
Hearty in your approbation; be light on your criticism. Most people do exactly the opposite. When they have a great meal but the coffee at the end is bitter, then that is what is expressed. What a negative outlook on life, what a disappointment for the host, the one who pays the bill, the chef. Let’s instead focus on the wonderful choice of wine, the beautifully cooked entrée and how good the company was.
The same applies to your team, your clients and your other contacts. No-one likes criticism, if it is due then of course it should be given, but even then considerately and concisely. Praise the good behaviour, magnify the small results, find positives, don’t let a small disappointment cast a cloud over your team performance.
Hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise. Try and keep a 1 to 10 ratio. Ten times as much praise as criticism, when you do, you’ll find there is increasingly reduced need for ‘approbation’.


Probably not a real word, but it describes exactly what I am trying to say here. Be genuine. Show a level of authenticity. Be who you are. Don’t pretend that you know more than you do, don’t try to be someone you are not. Sooner or later you will be found out, and the price is not worth paying.

Be genuine. When you praise or thank someone, make sure it is genuine. When you act, smile, frown, question, make sure it is you. Genuinely you.

In teams it is so important that everyone can be who they are. Of course there is a need for continuous improvement, learning and development. Standing still is not an option. When developing, enhance your good traits, focus on your strengths, develop new skills, but don’t try to change your character. Changing who you are, or rather trying to, is not genuine and will always lead to disappointment, with you and the ones you are trying to impress.

I have tried and it is more painful than embracing who you are what you can bring to the team. When you are genuine in your desire to contribute, help, support and succeed, you are at least half way there already.


Sometimes we have to bring bad news. It is never nice, and there is always a temptation to postpone or deliver it only partially. Just so we look better than we actually are.
Bad idea.
Let’s assume that the other party is at least as smart as we are (probably an underestimation), what we lose when we tell half-truth or hide behind others or events, is our integrity.
Once lost it is incredibly hard to regain. Integrity is really one of the very few stocks you have that you cannot and should never try to trade.
You can lose the battle, you can miss your targets, not deliver on a project. The consequences of these may be grave. The consequences of losing your integrity are much, much worse.
In our teams, there is no penalty for bad news, if delivered with the appropriate integrity and learning. We do our best to communicate openly and honestly. When this becomes the norm it is much easier to communicate similarly with others outside the team.


“A champion is someone who gives their best even when no-one is looking”. We all do it; when we are under scrutiny we work harder, neater, put in the extra call, go the extra mile. What sets the real superstars apart is that they make this the norm. They work at the best of their ability all the time. 

Can you make your team work in this way? It’s probably a tall order, but a great ambition.
Getting a champion team, doesn’t necessarily mean everyone has to be a champion. Everyone has to understand that for the team to be a champion team, the work rate and input has to be of championship level.
In truth, everyone is watching, all the time. In today’s world, there is no hiding, no slacking. You have to be on top of your game all the time, and so does everyone in your team. To expect this is a fallacy, to strive for it is more than sensible.
To give your best when no-one is looking.
But today someone if looking, and even if no-one is , you are; you yourself, looking at your own performance. Are you giving your best?
Superstar performance is definitely something for your next team talk. Someone is looking.

Make it easy

One of the top principles in our team is ‘make it easy’. Make it easy applies to almost everything we do. We make it easy for our clients to contact us, when we send them some information we provide them with the supporting URLs and where possible an audio file. When we want someone within the team to make a decision for us, we clearly lay-out what we want that decision to be and provide all necessary information.

Making it easy means you think one step ahead. You try to anticipate what the recipient or counterpart needs to know to take the next step (preferably the step you want them to take). This usually means more work on your part, you have to look up the information, anticipate, prepare. What it does though, is show respect for your recipient, an appreciation that they are busy and that your call, email or action is probably not their highest priority.

When you make it easy, it is surprising how many more successful outcomes you get and how quickly you will get them.