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Be Sincere and Authentic In Your Praise

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We can tell when someone is using flattery to make us feel better. With friends, it can be harmless fun, but within a business, it can be disastrous.

To lead a growing organization, you must provide honest and helpful feedback. Too often we provide only critical opinions on how we perceive performance or we compensate for negative comments by adding flattery. To be effective, performance reviews need to be honest. They need to consist of a two-way discussion. For an employee to improve in your eyes, they need to understand your perspective (or change your perspective). Effective feedback can include examples of behavior, discussion of alternative actions, or revision of goals. TechRepublic took the time to put together a list of how human resource professionals can provide positive feedback.

It isn’t easy to share unfavorable news with your team members, but trust is built on honesty. Whenever possible, be completely honest with team members about their performance and the impact on the team—especially when it is not up-to-par. Feedback must be given in a way that is respectful, timely, and with solutions.

Allow team members to share their feedback and input into solutions, as well. A two-way dialog is a must. It is not helpful to just tell someone that they are not performing without giving them time and opportunity to rectify things in a positive manner.


© Flickr user Lachlan Hardy.

If you can observe without judging, you will be able to increase your capacity for compelling evaluation. It takes practice. To show you care about a person, always be open and sincere. This applies to both praise and constructive criticism. This quote from Dale Carnegie puts it into perspective:

“The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.”

There are times in my life when I have felt hurt or betrayed. Those feelings can come from situations where I was not told the truth and then blindsided by something for which I was not prepared. As I spent some time reflecting this week, I realized another benefit for being open and authentic with others. You enable yourself to tell the truth and prevent those types of hurt feelings. Leading an organization and being open can be difficult if you are dealing with confidential data. Here are a couple of practices that can help you be authentic in these situations.

  • When an organization makes personnel changes, rumors tend to propagate because of information leaks. The best policy is to announce the changes immediately. Once the change is decided and approved, just make the announcement. It is the simplest way to minimize the time for rumors. It also reflects openness. Transparency is a pretty big deal for many workers or job hunters. Like Jack Klemeyer said in a post about how to increase leadership ability and skills, if you want your coworkers and employees to thrive, you need to check your communication skills.


    A good leader is approachable and has an open door policy. Good leadership creates an environment where openness and honesty can occur in an atmosphere of fairness rather than judgment.

  • Secondly, if someone asks me about a rumor of an upcoming change, I would be honest and tell them I could not answer. But I would always be able to tell them that changes are being considered and that as soon as they are approved, I would announce them. This too is being open.

For me, these two practices help create trust and authenticity with the organization. What has helped you be more open when faced with difficult questions?

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Mark S. Brown
Mark S. Brown is an executive coach who is passionate about personal development. He works to make a difference in people's lives by empowering them with skills and knowledge that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in. Mark has been coached, mentored, and certified by John Maxwell and his team. This coaching certification allows Mark to successfully coach and train individuals, groups, organizations, and companies.
Mark S. Brown


Executive and Business Coach at New Roads Leadership. A founding partner of the John Maxwell Team. We coach for your personal success!
Mark S. Brown
Mark S. Brown

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