Stop Saying Nice Things Behind People’s Backs

There are times when you think nice things about someone, but don’t tell them. There are also times when you only praise them in a conversation with someone else. I have been considering recently how easy it is to neglect to say it to the person directly. But the positive impact of doing so can be huge.

Everyone has different ways of showing appreciation. Some people give acts of service, or gifts, or time. But for many people it is words that are the most powerful. It is wonderful to receive genuine praise for specific things, and to be told to your face, particularly if it’s also put in writing.

One time I found out from a third party that someone had said lovely things about me – I was surprised to hear it! Did they assume that I knew their view already? Or did they not realise that it was important to say it to me directly? What a shame it would have been if I had never found out…I am privileged to know many people who are wonderfully encouraging, and their affirming words are answers to prayer when I’m feeling disheartened. It may only take a few moments, but can make all the difference.

I have become aware of this issue in my music teaching. In the desire to push someone forward to greater achievements it is easy to forget to give affirmation. I might listen to one of them and think, ‘Wow, he played that piece with great sensitivity – I’m really moved!’, but press on and say, ‘Okay, now let’s see if we can get better dynamics.’ A child or pupil might be clever, but they can’t read your mind. Encouragement is crucial. Tell them how you feel and watch their eyes light up!

If you only praise someone in their absence, they may never know that they are valued by you. And they certainly won’t hear how you feel if it remains in your head. I know from personal experience how encouraging it is when someone makes a special effort to tell you, so I try to do the same with others.

Saying nice things behind a person’s back is a missed opportunity.


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