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Why Positive Feedback and Praise Are Not Always the Same

Talking one on one with a colleague

I often get asked the question about how positive feedback and praise are the same or different?

Understanding the difference is key when building a culture where giving and receiving feedback is the norm and part of the fabric woven within your organization. To start, note that each of these communication pieces are equally valuable and important. The key difference is that positive feedback is linked specifically to performance, where praise doesn’t necessarily have to. 

  • Feedback identifies and mentions a specific situation, behavior, and the impact of that behavior. 

  • Feedback is future oriented and drives the behavior forward to a hope, a result, or common goal.

On the other hand, praise looks at the past and a person’s past behavior. Praise provides recognition for work / activity / an action of something that occurred in the past. 

Too often, praise gets overlooked or doesn’t occur at all – perhaps for a variety of reasons.  Maybe we undervalue the importance, or we think since we don’t receive praise, why should I do something different? We have an opportunity to break the cycle. Statistics show that many people may not ask for praise or even believe that it would have an impact on their performance. When given, it will help to elevate a person’s performance at a rate of 98%, so we don’t ask for it, but when we get it, it matters. 

At the end of the day, people want to feel like they matter, and they want to be recognized for a job well done.  Bottom line, it can feel really good. 

Be aware… people value and receive praise differently. Some prefer it in private, as to some, it can feel embarrassing and prefer not to have the spotlight upon them. Others welcome public recognition with open arms. Know the people around you well to best understand which method will have the greatest impact. 

Building a culture of feedback does not happen overnight. It requires time and intentional effort to create an environment that is strong, sustainable, and impactful. Look out for opportunities to catch people doing good things and provide them with praise and positive feedback to see those same actions and behaviors continue. 

For more information, contact Barbara Ann Sharon at

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