If you think you’ve given praise that was Obnoxiously Aggressive, check out these tips for moving towards Radical Candor!
Focus on the good stuff — but if you don’t mean it, don’t say it! If somebody has rated your praise as Obnoxiously Aggressive, you’re not showing that you really do Care Personally. When you see something you genuinely like, just say it!
Praise helps people turn great work into insanely great work
You’re not “babying people’s egos” when you praise them, you’re helping them and everyone else know what’s good, why, and how to do more of it.
You don’t have to eat humble pie to show you’re not arrogant
Just focus on the good stuff. When you see work you admire, speak up with the same energy you’d have when you see work that’s not good enough. When you admire other people’s work, they see that you know you don’t have all the answers.
Just say it!
When you see something great, the key is to point it out right away. It’s more clear that you are genuinely impressed when you say something right away. Look for moments in the day when something impresses you, and give those moments a voice. The 30 seconds you invest will help people look forward to what you have to say.
Praise in person so you can notice if the other person is surprised
If so, you’re not giving enough praise.
Praise in every public forum available
Praise in big meetings, in front of your boss, in front of the whole team. Follow up in email and reply-all! Write notes. They don’t always have to come from you. Make sure your boss knows about your team’s accomplishments, and notes them. Don’t dismiss recognition as babying egos; you’re doing it to help everyone learn. And the more you praise, the more open people are to your criticism.
Trying to soften criticism by starting with praise about personality just sounds insincere
Starting any sentence with phrases like, “I know you are a genius, but…” is not likely to be effective.