May 15, 2011
This time of year calls up many festive celebrations with ample opportunities to sing someone’s praises!
Now here’s an amazing fact: You get more bang for your buck by singing someone’s praises than by soothing their bruises! -Dr. Shelly Gable, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Praise, positive reinforcement, the congratulations: “Good job, way to go, hurrah!”… touches upon a basis human need for acknowledgement and appreciation.
Margaret Shepherd reminds us that “Words on paper make the best pat on the back.” Congratulations in a handwritten letter is a bonafide keepsake. It can be read and reread, saved and even framed!
The personal letter of congratulations adds something unique to any occasion for celebration- be it a birth, graduation, marriage, retirement, scholastic or athletic achievement. “Take time to praise achievement with words rather than prizes. Whatever the milestone, don’t let it pass without writing a personal letter.” (M.S.)
Craft your congratulations to match the individual’s personality and the occasion. “Festive, bright, elegant or formal. Adult or child.” Choose appropriate stationery or a greeting card to showcase your praise. Some office supply stores even sell bordered certificates of appreciation and achievement. These frame-worthy, official looking documents are fun and encouraging to both children and adults.
Tips for the right words…
- Stay upbeat. Put yourself in the backseat. Don’t say: “I’m jealous or envious.” Remember this is his/her achievement. It is not about you.
- Praise the effort leading up to, the happy moment, and a bright future. Use phrases such as: “You will…I will…It will.”
- Say: “Well done, great job, hurray.”
- Back up your “Congratulations” with a memory of the early stages, an “overheard compliment,” or an extra incite. Make your praise personal.
- Finally, close with a reminder of how much you value the relationship. End on a positive note: “Bravo, brava, cheers…with fondness.”
- If you are crafts-y, you may want to create your own card by incorporating photos and related memorabilia to enhance your words. For example, you could create a collage around a ticket to a game where your child excelled. Include newspaper clippings. Add the school colors…your efforts will amplify your praise. Have fun. You are acknowledging someone’s peak experience.
- ragandbone.com offers small accordion booklets you can create a mini album to preserve the event.
- baudville.com features an entire company devoted to praise and appreciation.
- The Oprah Magazine. April 2011
- Margaret Shepherd, The Art of the Personal Letter. 2008 & The Art of the Handwritten Note. 2002 Broadway Books, New York