Dealing with Conflict: “Praise, Correct, Praise”

This insight was a game changer for me. I learned it during a seminar at my Venusian Arts Coaching Training Program.

The idea is simple. Instead of out right criticizing someone, follow this “formula” instead.

First, praise. Sincerely. That means finding a positive detail about someone and praising it. A generic “yeah, yeah that’s good” won’t cut it. An honest-to-God detail you saw that you truly admired will. What if you can’t find a good detail? You CAN. There’s ALWAYS good to be found.

Second, correct. Now you can point out what it is that could be improved on.

Finally, praise again. Don’t end on a negative note. End on a positive note.

Most people just out right criticize each other, and find fault, instead of considering how it might make that person feel. Outright criticism puts a person on the defensive, feeds arguments, hurts feelings, and just plain breeds negativity.

But if you find the good in a person–genuinely–then gently point out what could be “corrected,” and finally emphasize the good again, it makes it more likely you or me or any one of us will listen to the “correction.” And, maybe best of all, it forces us to see the good (not just the bad) in each other.

Inevitably, we’ll have conflicts with our women. This technique is one great way to dealing with those. Agree or praise, then assert your view. Keep agreeing or praising, and gently asserting. It defuses negativity, allows a person to be “heard,” which in turn allows you to be heard.

In that way, it’s a great way of dealing not with just women, but with conflicts in general.

It’s easy just to tear down. But in the long run, it’s so much simpler to be on a person’s side.


5 thoughts on “Dealing with Conflict: “Praise, Correct, Praise”

    1. renaissan

      Exactly. Although I’d replace the “criticize” in there with “correct,” for the exact reasons you just said.

      But well said. Without the praise in front and behind the “correction,” I know for me, I’d probably get defensive and start denying the negative stuff. But little sugar helps the medicine go down.

      You do me honor reading and commenting on my shit, man. Thank-you.

  1. ShalamarRue88

    I enjoy receiving praise for a positive details about myself, still, I would begin to believe that at some point the person who was giving me all of the praise was just sugar-coating his real feelings on what changes he truly wished for in my actions or how he wished for me to perform. (not that I’m a trained monkey.. but you get my meaning) I would much rather he sat down with and we had a good talk, rather than continued to sugar coat the issues we kept sweeping under the rug. Little mole hills soon become mountains when one person believes the problems are truly no “big issue” and the other believes with a bit of encouragement things will change.

    1. renaissan

      This article isn’t about sugar-coating or lying. What I was trying to say was this:

      Our instinct during conflict seems to focus on the negative, and to criticize. That tends to lead to arguments and to feelings of defensiveness.

      I was suggesting that a more effective approach might be to lead with praise… honest, specific, insightful praise, not generic, bullshit praise. This allows a discussion about issues that need to be rectified to emerge rather than descending into negative, go-nowhere fights.

      Now, if the discussion were to end on the issues that need to be rectified, it would feel like the praise that came before was a bunch of bologna. In other words, whatever comes after the “but” seems to cancel what came before.

      Also, you’d be ending on a negative note.

      So I was suggesting a more effective route would be to end on a positive note, with honest praise again.

      It’s like being a writer in a writer’s workshop. Wouldn’t you be able to hear criticisms better after hearing praise first? I’ve been in workshops where all I heard was everything I did wrong, and it was devastating. Additionally, wouldn’t it give you a boost of confidence to hear praise again after receiving the criticism?

      All I was advocating here was a way we can be honest with each other that’s more effective. That is, we can be honest with each other while also being respectful.


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