The Danger of Public Criticism and the Power of Social Confirmation

I was greeting audience members before a presentation when one asked, “What makes you qualified to give this presentation?”

“Thanks for asking,” is my typical response when I need a second to think. But that didn’t seem appropriate.

I said, “Wow! That’s an interesting question.”

Bragging is embarrassing. I decided not to trot out my credentials. I replied, “Social confirmation. I’m here because people all over the world have been helped by Leadership Freak.”

Social Confirmation:

We’re back from our first visit to Paris and Rome. My wife and I used social confirmation to choose cafés and restaurants.

Normally, I hate waiting. But an empty restaurant screams, “Move on!”

Social confirmation validates worth and extends influence.

Social dis-confirmation:

Reputation stealing degrades you. Never complain about your team to customers or higher ups.

You damage others, teams, and yourself when you publicly badmouth the people around you.

Don’t be surprised if the people you tear down find it difficult to get things done.

Practice social confirmation:

#1. Give public acknowledgement.

Social confirmation is giving respect while others are watching.

Praise is social confirmation. Gratitude might be a private matter, but praise requires an audience.

  • Publicly brag about your team.
  • Privately correct problems.

#2. Don’t tear others down to build yourself up.

Social dis-confirmation lowers your ability to get things done through others.

#3. Spread the good word.

Leverage customer testimonials to elevate the status and influence of team members.

#4. Focus on strengths.

  • Overcome the magnetism of negative traits by forcing yourself to notice what’s good about the people around you.
  • Begin meetings by honoring progress or success.

How might leaders leverage social confirmation to increase the effectiveness of colleagues and team members?

Praise in Public, Criticize in Private (Radical Candor)

The 9 Elements of Highly Effective Employee Praise (Inc)