On your kids, your colleagues – even your pets! Gail Blanke, a personal coach, motivational speaker and author of the book Between Trapezes: Flying Into a New Life With the Greatest of Ease, started using what she calls the “good girl method” on her not-so-well-behaved golden retriever, Willa. Rather than scolding her for doing something wrong, she waits until her dog does something right - and then praises her for it. She starts each sentence with the phrase, “Good girl!” “Good girl to leave the cat alone! Good girl to drop the shoe!” It’s working! Blanke says her husband was standing outside recently calling for Willa, but she wouldn’t come. So she yelled, “Good girl to come, Willa! Good girl!” – and the dog came flying to the front porch. The lesson being – if you want to have more successful relationships, you should start praising people! Here are Blanke’s suggestions, courtesy of Real Simple magazine.

  • Point out something that someone is doing right, every day. Make it a habit. It could be your spouse, your child, your coworker. Let them know how appreciative you are.  
  • Seek out good behavior in others that might not be repeated if you don’t. For example, “Hey, I love the way you’re standing up so straight and tall – you look beautiful!” will work wonders for your teenage daughter who normally slumps. It’s much more effective than nagging her, or poking her in the back all the time.
  • Make a list of your own ‘wins.’ Those you’ve experienced over the past few months – big and small. You found a quarter in the vending machine - right on! You lost two pounds - woo-hoo! Give yourself a little praise once in a while on behalf of everyone else. Say it out loud and get used to how it feels. From now on, say, “good job!” to yourself every chance you get. Sometimes a simple pat on the back will get you through when times get tough. The more you praise yourself, the more likely you are to praise others and vice-versa.