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Dealing with praise

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We all receive criticism from time to time, and part of growing up is learning how to deal with it. Countless articles have been written on that.

But, how do you react when you are receiving compliments? What's your reaction to : You did such a great job!, You are a rockstar!, You might be the GOD of all developers!! ?

We all want to be perceived as humble, but we also don't want to be rude to the people congratulating us. Do you have any experiences in this matter?

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A simple "Thank you" is usually enough.

If they exaggerate then "Thank you, you are too kind."

If they take hyperbole to an extreme, "Thank you, I appreciate your enthusiasm for my work. It means a lot."

If they persist, continuing their praise well after the conference, perhaps even outside your window, then perhaps, "Help! Police!" :)

 

I don't accept personal praise like your last 2 examples. But I've learned to just say "thank you" or "nice of you to say" to avoid making the other person feel awkward by correcting them. Of course on some level I like praise, even if I feel compelled to reject it. But every praise feels like a test of pride.

I try to keep the perspective that I am nothing special. It's a fact that others are smarter and better than me in any given thing. But nonetheless I sometimes get to do and learn interesting things. So I celebrate those victories, because I got to play a part of the accomplishment. This helps mitigate impostor syndrome by marking the successes of the past as objective proof that my current challenges can be overcome.

More than that, praise and criticism in the work place are indicators of the merits of particular actions, not of you personally. It might (or might not, depending on the context) be a good idea to incorporate that feedback into my subsequent actions. However, it is pathological to assign my self-worth on the whims of praise (or criticism). That is essentially giving others some chains and saying "you can use these to make me do whatever you want".

 

First I would say there are different levels of praise. E.g. feedback, compliments, kudos, ...

I think how every one of them is perceived, has a lot to do with the cultural and social background, so it might land totally different than it was meant.

This is especially true if the people involved are having different privileges or roles (developer, team lead, manager, customer just to mention a few).

Since I want to be as honest and authentic as possible in my life, I will never give such feedback just "to be polite", "to motivate" or because of "some company policy".
(I have done this earlier in my live but have stopped doing this for years.)

There is an improved chance to be understood, when you are adding to your "praise" why exactly you liked it.

In which way did it help you or contribute to your life/work:

  • Did the person jump in when nobody else was available?
  • Did the person solve a problem faster than anybody expected?
  • Did it help you to understand or question something?
  • Are you happy something gets done you couldn't find time to do?
  • Do you feel more confident because the solution the person provided is very sound or even SOLID?
  • Did he sacrifice his life time or social life for something? (Hopefully not praising this aspect to much to encourage it should stay this way.)
  • ...

I totally agree that I would question the last two phrases.

 

The correct way to react when somebody calls you a "rockstar" is...

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There is only one and only one good answer to praise: Thank you.

 

While it's usually good to be humble, I think there is room to be pride in the right context. If you're not sure how to act, it's probably best to not be boastful of your achievements, but with enough self-awareness, it can be a refreshing tone.

You don't need to put yourself above others, but you also don't need to be a robot.

 

I don't like praise if it's too often. I feel like being mocked.

Praise me with better salary and I'll see that you respect me... :)

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French web developer mostly interested in Javascript and JAVA

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