Giving feedback to children is kind of my speciality. There’s a fine line between positive feedback and praise.

Positive feedback is empowering, it acknowledges someone’s efforts and results but ideally it makes them want to keep moving forward. It provides a new goal, a new target, an area for improvement, but celebrates the progress made.

Praise can make make someone feel great, but only for what they have done, it’s not constructive feedback that refocuses or shifts practice. There’s a place for it, and at some level we all appreciate it and want it, but overuse of praise in a classroom is limiting. The balance is important.

Feedback to adults is not my speciality.

Receiving praise when we don’t feel deserving can drain our confidence. We end up feeling like we’re going to get caught out – be seen as a fraud or that perhaps that we won’t live up to expectations. Praise isn’t necessarily a remedy for self-doubt.

Adults seem more willing to give praise to each other than positive feedback. Perhaps it’s human nature, to want people around you to be happy, and praise seems like a sure bet. When we’re in situations where we’re making, creating, working in public, or being judged, praise and criticism can come thick and fast. When most people aren’t adept at giving positive feedback the question we’re left with is …

Whose opinion do you trust?

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