Praising a worker you don’t like

Praising employeesEvery boss has a worker or two that, well, just grates on you. Learning to give a pat on the back to someone who rubs you the wrong way takes practice, but it’s well worth it.

Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Watch for opportunities. It’s hard to catch someone you don’t like doing something right. But you need to separate your feelings about the person’s mannerisms from the job he’s doing. Then be on the lookout for chances to praise him. It doesn’t have to be anything major; praising little things shows that you’re paying attention.

2. Make it quick and easy. Keep your message simple but sincere. Describe the action or result you wish to praise. Say what’s good about it. Then stop. Let the person feel pleasantly surprised. You’ll likely get a “Thanks!”

3. Do it again. Once you get the hang of it, praising people you don’t like is rewarding. It makes you feel mature and insightful and it motivates people to do better work. As you get used to it, you can try variations: putting praise in writing, or passing on positive observations to others.

Praising employees who aren’t exactly on top of your “like” list can sometimes change your opinion of them. Especially if that person genuinely appreciates your compliments and makes the overtures to stand in your good graces.

That’s a win for both of you.