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This short & informative electronic newsletter is filled with tips for building an effective Union and is published monthly by Janet Stewart.

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Praise and Feedback

Why we need both


Praise and acknowledgment are things that parents do naturally with children. Parents instinctively know that kids need encouragement, so they can flourish as people.

Yet somehow, as we grow older, we hear less praise and encouragement from the people around us. And we become increasingly conscious of our failings: the gaps in our skills, our mistakes, the “what’s wrong”. We humans love to zoom in on the negative in ourselves.

The pat-on-the-back effect
The purpose of praise is simple: to congratulate or thank people for their actions or behavior. While the idea is simple, it does have a great effect.

A genuine pat on the back, and a bit of recognition, reinforces great behaviour.

Everyone performs their best when they feel good about themselves and the contribution that they’re making to their Union - and it’s difficult to feel good if all you are hearing is what you are doing wrong!

When you praise someone, you positively influence their self-esteem and their behaviour.

As behavioural scientists have proven time and again in the laboratory, positive feedback increases the frequency of a desired response. When negative feedback is given (or when no feedback at all is given), the desired behaviour tends 
ive praise freely, when deserved, and when needed. Receive praise with pride, and remember to repeat the positive behavior!




Feedback is given when you would like to offer your insights or perspective about how a situation or task was handled, and it usually includes suggestions for improvement.


It often has a negative connotation, but feedback really is a good thing! Quality feedback from another person can help you to improve - and if you are giving the feedback - you are actually helping someone…so why doesn’t it always feel that way?


Here are some tips for giving feedback:

  • Check that the recipient is open to receiving feedback from you
  • Be specific - and objective
  • Focus on the behaviour rather than the person
  • Offer feedback sooner rather than later
  • Be realistic - focus on changeable behaviour

Here are some tips for receiving feedback:

  • Listen carefully
  • Ask clarifying questions to ensure that you understand the feedback
  • Focus on the issue or behaviour being discussed and try not to feel that it is a personal attack
  • Thank the person (and apologize if appropriate)



  • With someone who is just learning, you should praise when performance is approximately right.
  • With seasoned professionals, you should praise when things are done exactly right.

*Remember… if you introduce a new product, skill or procedure to a seasoned professional, he/she becomes a learner and should receive praise accordingly.


To Praise Someone…Place A BET!


B - Behaviour - Tell the person what, specifically, he or she is doing that is valuable.

E - Effect - Tell the person how that behaviour contributes to the organization, the team, your family, etc.

T - Thanks - Thank the person for his/her contribution.


To Give Constructive Feedback…Use Your DESC!


D - Describe - Describe what the person did - accurately and concisely. Be objective. Do not exaggerate or minimize the situation. Be specific and neutral.

E - Explain - Explain the impact of the person’s behaviour on you, the team and/or the organization.

S - Suggest - Suggest the changes that you would like to see and explain what you need, expect or would like the person to do differently. The more specific you are with your suggestions, the more likely the person will be able to implement your ideas.

C - Commitment - Commit, contract or talk about consequences. Ideally, you and the other person will reach an agreement about modifying the behaviour - you may even find a way to compromise in doing so. In extreme cases, you may have to lay out the consequences of non-compliance. Try your best not to make this sound like a threat.


Final Thought…Praise!


Go find the opportunities in your Union to give praise!

  • It helps an individual feel valued.
  • It is encouraging and gives a clear reinforcing message.
  • It builds confidence.
  • It feels good to give it!

Final Thought…Constructive Feedback

It may be equally uncomfortable for a team leader or coach to give constructive feedback as it is for a Member to receive it so make sure to:

  • Accept the feedback in the spirit it is given (constructive)!
  • Understand the message, and what exactly is expected moving forward.
  • Recognize the positive opportunity for personal improvement.

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