How do you get the best out of people? Whether you’re a team leader, manager or parent raising kids, the answer is deceptively simple: praise. That’s about more than merely complimenting folks, however – if you really want to help those around you fulfil their potential, you need to start speaking to their most cherished values and skills.

And that’s where affirmation comes in. Affirmation is all about creating a supportive structure that encourages people to act on their best instincts. In this post we’ll be taking a look at affirmation in practice in a variety of settings.

Self-affirmation activates brain systems associated with self-related processing and reward and is reinforced by future orientation. Self-affirmation theory posits that people are motivated to maintain a positive self-view and that threats to perceived self-competence are met with resistance. When threatened, self-affirmations can restore self-competence by allowing individuals to reflect on sources of self-worth, such as core values.

The best way to communicate your support for a team member is to focus on what they really care about – their strengths. Let’s see how that works.

Typically, you’ll find four different personality types in the workplace: the doer, the advocate, the idealist and the challenger. As their name suggests, doers are all about getting things done. That sometimes goes hand-in-hand with a bullish insensitivity to colleagues. If you want to affirm a doer, your best bet is to praise them for doing a great job on a presentation or meeting a tough deadline.

Advocates are people-centered and seek inclusiveness. To support them, you should focus on their role holding the team together and keeping its members’ morale up. Then there are idealists – dreamers who think big and care about integrity. Affirming their work is all about thanking them for reminding everyone of the company’s original values.

Finally, there are challengers, folks who question the status quo and are always on the lookout for new solutions and approached. If you want to praise them, you should emphasize how valuable you find their novel way of looking at projects.

Positive affirmations are powerful statements that can help improve your confidence and outlook. Understanding how positive mantras work may assist you in reducing negativity in your professional life. You can use affirmations in situations and the workplace where you would like to improve, such as:

• Boost self-esteem at job interviews and work.
• Control negative thoughts and emotions, such as fear, frustration and impatience.
• Overcome a habit negatively impacting your career progression, including procrastination or passive-aggressive behaviour.
• Improve your confidence and public speaking skills before and during an interview, meetings and presentations.
• Enhance your proficiency at skills and boost your productivity.
• Motivate yourself to finish on-going projects according to schedule.
• Set new career goals.

Criticism has lasting negative effects on the brain.
Criticism is especially damaging when it’s public. Criticism from a peer group is devastating. Not only does it trigger a flight-or-fight response, but it’s also associated with the negative feeling of being rejected by your tribe. That, in turn, further undermines our self-belief.
The takeaway here? Keep criticism private and make affirmation and praise in public!

Affirmation has a positive effect on the brain. But here’s the flipside: unconstructive criticism, yelling and humiliation are just as capable of altering the brain – for the worse. In fact, nothing is quite as likely to undermine a person’s resourcefulness and self-confidence. The alternative? Affirmation. That’s all about speaking to people’s core competences, values and strengths.