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Are we too quick to blame and slow to praise? It seems we are.
Profits of Praise
It was the end of my exhausting first day as waitress in a busy New York restaurant. My cap had gone awry, my apron was stained, my feet ached. The loaded trays I carried felt heavier and heavier. Weary and discouraged, I didn't seem able to do anything right. As I made out a complicated check for a family with several children who had changed their ice-cream order a dozen times, I was ready to quit.
Then the father smiled at me as he handed me my tip. "Well done," he said. "You've looked after us really well."
Suddenly my tiredness vanished. I smiled back, and later, when the manager asked me how I'd liked my first day, I said, "Fine!" Those few words of praise had changed everything.
Praise is like sunlight to the human spirit; we cannot flower and grow without it. And yet, while most of us are only too ready to apply to others the cold wind of criticism, we are somehow reluctant to give our fellows the warm sunshine of praise.
Why - when one word can bring such pleasure? A friend of mine who travels widely always tries to learn a little of the language of any place she visits. She's not much of a linguist, but she does know how to say one word - "beautiful" - in several languages. She can use it to a mother holding her baby, or to lonely salesman fishing out pictures of his family. The ability has earned her friends all over the world.
It's strange how chary we are about praising. Perhaps it's because few of us know how to accept compliments gracefully. Instead, we are embarrassed and shrug off the words we are really so glad to hear. Because of this defensive reaction, direct compliments are surprisingly difficult to give. That is why some of the most valued pats on the back are those which come to us indirectly, in a letter or passed on by a friend. When one thinks of the speed with which spiteful remarks are conveyed, it seems a pity that there isn't more effort to relay pleasing and flattering comments.
It's especially rewarding to give praise in areas in which effort generally goes unnoticed or unmentioned. An artist gets complimented for a glorious picture, a cook for a perfect meal. But do you ever tell you laundry manager how pleased you are when the shirts are done just right? Do you ever praise your paper boy for getting the paper to you on time 365 days a year?
Praise is particularly appreciated by those doing routine jobs: gas-station attendants, waitresses - even housewives. Do you ever go into a house and say, "What a tidy room"? Hardly anybody does. That's why housework is considered such a dreary grind. Comment is often made about activities which are relatively easy and satisfying, like arranging flowers; but not about jobs which are hard and dirty, like scrubbing floors. Shakespeare said, "Our praises are our wages." Since so often praise is the only wage a housewife receives, surely she of all people should get her measure.
Mothers know instinctively that for children an ounce of praise is worth a pound of scolding. Still, we're not always as perceptive as we might be about applying the rule. One day I was criticizing my children for squabbling. "Can you never play peacefully?" I shouted. Susanna looked at me quizzically. "Of course we can," she said. "But you don't notice us when we do."
Teachers agree about the value of praise. One teacher writes that instead of drowning students' compositions in critical red ink, the teacher will get far more constructive results by finding one or two things which have been done better than last time, and commenting favorably on them. "I believe that a student knows when he has handed in something above his usual standard," writes the teacher, "and that he waits hungrily for a brief comment in the margin to show him that the teacher is aware of it, too."
Behavioral scientists have done countless experiments to prove that any human being tends to repeat an act which has been immediately followed by a pleasant result. In one such experiment, a number of schoolchildren were divided into three groups and given arithmetic tests daily for five days. One group was consistently praised for its previous performance; another group was criticized; the third was ignored.
Not surprisingly, those who were praised improved dramatically. Those who were criticized improved also, bus not so much. And the scores of the children who were ignored hardly improved at all. Interestingly the brightest children were helped just as much by criticism as by praise, but the less able children reacted badly to criticism, needed praise the most. Yet the latter are the very youngsters who, in most schools, fail to get the pat on the back.
To give praise costs the giver nothing but a moment's thought and a moment's effort - perhaps a quick phone call to pass on a compliment, or five minutes spent writing an appreciative letter. It is such a small investment - and yet consider the results it may produce. "I can live for two months on a good compliment," said Mark Twain.
So, let's be alert to the small excellences around us - and comment on them. We will not only bring joy into other people's lives, but also, very often, added happiness into out own.
n. advantage or good obtained from sth... money gained in business 益处；利润
vt. tire out 使筋疲力尽
n. woman waiter
a. with a turn to one side 歪；斜
vt. make dirty marks on 玷污
vt. put a full amount of things on or in (sth.) 装满
a. very tired 厌倦的，厌烦的
vt. cause to lose courage or confidence 使泄气，使灰心
n. twelve （一）打
v. stop (doing sth.) and leave 离（职），不干
n. light of the sun; sunshine
a. of or concerning people
ad. for some reason or other; in some way or other 不知怎么地，以某种方式
a. unwilling 不情愿的；勉强的
n. light of the sun
n. person who is good at foreign languages; person who studies the science of language 通晓数国语言的人；语言学家
n. man whose work is selling a company's goods to businesses, homes, etc. 推销员
vt. get in return for work or as a reward for one's qualities, etc. 挣得，赢得
a. careful; cautious 谨慎小心的
n. praise 赞美（话）
vt. praise 赞美
vt. make awkward or ashamed 使尴尬
as. in a surprising manner or degree
n. tap made with the open hand 轻拍
v. tap gently with the open hand
ad. in an indirect way 间接地
a. having or showing ill will 恶意的
vt. make (ideas, views, feelings, etc.) know to another person 转达，传达
vt. praise too much; praise insincerely (in order to please) 过奖；谄媚，奉承
n. opinion, explanation or judgment written or spoken about an event, book, person, state of affairs, etc. 评论
vi. make comments (on); give opinions
a. worthwhile; worth doing; giving a reward to 值得（做）的；报答的
ad. usually 通常，一般地
n. person who practises or works in one of the fine arts, esp. painting 画家，艺术家
a. splendid 辉煌的
vt. understand and enjoy; be thankful for 欣赏，鉴赏；感谢，感激
a. not unusual or exciting; regular 常规的，例行的
a. neatly arranged 整洁的，整齐的
n. work done on taking care of a house 家务劳动
a. dull and uninteresting 沉闷乏味的
n. hard uninteresting work 苦差使
vt. clean by rubbing hard, esp. with a stiff brush 擦洗
n. (pl.) 工资，报酬
n. am adequate or due portion 份儿
vt. blame with angry words 申诉，怒骂
vi. quarrel, esp. noisily and unreasonably 争吵，口角
ad. in a peaceful manner; quietly 安静地
vt. cover completely with water; cause (sb.) to die by keeping under water 淹没；使（某人）淹死
a. fault-finding 挑剔的，苛求的
a. helping 建设性的
ad. helping 赞成地，称赞地
a. using a few words; short
n. blank space round the printed or written matter on a page 页边的空白
a. of or relating to behavior 行为的
a. too many to be counted
n. science of numbers 算术
a. coming earlier in time or order 以前的
vt. not to take notice of, pay no attention to 不理,忽视
ad. strikingly 显著地
vi. respond 反应
n. young person, esp. a boy
a. thankful; grateful
a. watchful and keen 警觉的
n. an excellent or valuable quality; virtue
PHRASRS & EXPRESSIONS
write out; complete or fill in 开出;填写
not much of a
not a very good 不十分好的
bring out after searching 掏出
dismiss as not deserving attention or as sth. unimportant 耸肩表示对...不屑理睬
pat on the back
word or gesture of praise or encouragement 赞扬;鼓励
convey (to another) 传递
depend upon for support 靠...生活