NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Doing Better than “Atta Boy”

Doing Better than “Atta Boy”



Whether we are talking to a child or an adult, “Good job,” or “Nice work,” or other similar phrases can easily miss the mark when we are trying to extend congratulations or encouragement to them.  Those types of phrases are referred to as evaluative praise.  They tend to be generic, non-specific, and one-size-fits all.

Contrast that with a descriptive praise statement, and you’ll see the difference.  Descriptive praise includes some specifics or details and communicates that you are paying attention to what the other person is doing or has done, and that he is worth the time and effort it takes communicate those details or specifics.

To give you the general idea, here are a few examples of descriptive praise:

  • “I enjoyed listening to your piano solo – your emotion came through in the dynamics.”
  • “Wow! You really had to wrap up the running back and hang on tight to get the tackle.”
  • “I can tell you put a lot of thought into your plan because it is very detailed.”

Descriptive praise speaks volumes to both children and adults.  It allows the person on the receiving end to come to their own conclusion that they did a good job or that they are responsible.  These conclusions help people develop a confidence and positive self-esteem.

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/man-good-job-thumbs-up-expression-5680626/ (downloaded 11/17/20)


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