Make it sincere
Talking about validation in my DBT support group for parents of kids struggling with various types of issues has coincided with recognition survey results at the bank where I work. It’s interesting how people like to be recognized, as no two people are alike. Some people want praise weekly, others don’t feel that’s necessary. Some want rewards and others just want verbal praise. But everyone wants praise and recognition to be sincere. Working at a big corporation certainly differs from working as a ballet instructor, but giving sincere praise is an important component for both.
One thing I really miss about dancing is the immediate praise you get while performing a combination. Either you’re doing it all right and don’t get any attention, you’re doing something wrong and get a correction (which is not a bad thing at all), or you’re doing it really well and get praise like, “Good girl, Tammy!” That was my favorite one from my favorite teacher, Melissa Lowe. It was always my goal while doing turns across the floor or grand allegro to have her take notice and give me a “Good girl!” shout. And when I was teaching I made it a point to take notice when someone was pushing extra hard, or putting into practice a correction I’d given them, by saying something positive to them.
Praise can be the best motivator
When I was dancing, I know for a fact that praise did way more for my technical improvement than negative feedback. Some teachers I could just tell didn’t like me for some reason or another, and nothing I could do would get a nod of approval. Once I took an entire class where the teacher hated how I put my weight over the ball of my supporting foot when working on one leg. This was major. It was how I’d been taught to stand when doing tendus with the working leg, for instance. She wanted the weight to stay exactly where it had been when standing on two feet in 1st position. So I’d move into a tendu and fall over without hanging onto the barre for dear life. It was very odd and I never went back to her class again. I was also in severe pain for at least week afterward.
Now I’m working on bringing this validation and praise home. I realize that I pick at my own kids for the things I wish they didn’t do (“Your room is a mess! Pick up all these clothes—either put them away or put them in the dirty clothes basket!”) rather than praising them for the things they are doing right. “Thanks for emptying the dishwasher when I asked you to. It makes life a lot easier for everyone when we help each other out.”
Praise. Give it sincerely and give it often when deserved. It will improve this world. You never know what hassles people are going through in their personal lives, so showing praise for a job well done at work or in ballet class can sometimes be what is getting someone through the day.