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A very simple principle, yet so often forgotten.

Mohan, a young engineer told me that he was very upset with his boss. I could sense that something about his relationship with his boss had not gone right. “I am waiting for a chance when he has to come to me for something. I will show him then” he said. His sulking typifying the hurt he felt from within.

From subsequent conversation I realized Mohan was upset because his boss had yelled at him in front of 3 others. “I agree. That’s not good” I said “But when did this happen?” He glared as he recalled the incident. “2 years ago” he said darkly. Obviously the memory still rankled.

Some time later, he mentioned another point that had hurt him even more. “I understand that my boss has much more experience than me” he said ” I have much to learn from him. He could have called me separately and scolded me- if he had to. What I felt worse was that, of all people, he yelled at me in front of those two fellows – Naresh and Ram”

To him the last straw was being scolded in front of two others whom he felt were not as good as him.

I am sure his boss may not remember this incident at all. He is blissfully unaware of the adverse impact on this person.

A few weeks later, I met Mohan and made some general enquiries about his work. “ Did you say anything to my boss?” he asked. “ No, why?” I asked.

” I thought you may have told him something” he said. “ He called me yesterday to his cabin and actually said I had done a good job. The team was struggling with a problem. I came out with a solution that worked. I am really happy” he beamed.

Here we go again, I thought to myself. The boss had missed this one too. Here was an excellent opportunity to praise the young engineer in front of the team. To make it known that such behaviours were appreciated. That such ideas were welcomed. Instead he had praised him privately.

You might argue that praising in private is better than not praising at all ! I would agree. But think, how much more pleased the young engineer, (or you or me for that matter) would have felt had the boss praised in front of the entire team.

Simply stated: Praise in public! Criticize in Private !!

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