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Each week on Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, explore different aspects of human behavior and the brain.

Why All Praise is Not Created Equal

“Hey, you’re smart!”  That feels good to hear, doesn’t it?  Praise always feels good, but not all praise motivates us to try new things, challenge ourselves, or deal with failure.

In this episode of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke discuss how to praise in a productive and meaningful way.

In summary, when giving or receiving praise, it’s a helpful skill to think about where that praise is directed.  

When someone compliments your talent for playing the guitar, for instance, you might nod and feel good about your guitar skills, and you might feel somehow in possession of a unique ability to play music. 

Or you might take the same compliment and focus on feeling good about the recognition of all the work you’ve put into practicing this instrument to develop the skill of playing at this level.  It’s not a gift. It takes a lot of work, like pretty much everything else in life.

Ultimately, everything in life that warrants praise requires a certain amount of effort.  Praise is most constructive, and in that way, most valuable, when it solidifies the link between effort and outcome. That kind of praise helps to reinforce and encourage motivation to keep trying, and that’s the best way to ensure success.

Rebecca McInroy is an award-winning show creator, host, and executive producer for KUT, KUTX, and KUT.ORG.
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