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.”
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.
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)
Going into a difficult meeting sometimes forgetting to find or ask around about others. Praise should be something you’re known for -at least this article spoke to me about this directly. The power of influence! Changing behaviors
Thanks Tycee. If you want a reputation build one that says you honor and praise others. Love that!
Praise opens hearts. Criticism creates defensiveness. If you want to influence others create a relationship where they feel safe to open their hearts.
When praising an employee or team member via e-mail, always include a copy that goes to the person’s boss.
Thanks Paul. Great tip!
#truth! Such a good reminder. Just be kind and treat people the way you want to be treated.
Public criticism and people rebelling against social confirmation is the basis of revolutions and social movements throughout the course of history.
Actually, a piece featured on Leadership Freak appeared on June 21, 2019 called, “WHAT REMARKABLE LEADERS DO THAT AVERAGE LEADERS DON’T,” highlights the topic of resistance. That piece showed how Rosa Parks actions sparked a flame that would lead to the destruction of Jim Crow Laws in the American South.
Good response to your would be heckler! I agree wholeheartedly that social confirmation validates worth. The longest of resumes means nothing to followers in the long run. People tend to go along with the norms around them. I like your restaurant example, it perfectly translates to the work environment. The fact that Leadership Freak has helped leaders around the world is a good point to make. People, whether consciously or subconsciously, look for that validation in their leaders. We don’t ask ourselves on what projects was this guy successful, but rather we ask other followers what they think about this guy. Good move not to list your resume. It may sound like bragging, but more importantly it may be void of any value to people who can’t directly relate or understand the significance of your experience. You may be up there all day explaining the intricacies of every job you had and what good would that do if the adage “actions speak louder than words” reigns true?