Praise Loudly, Reprimand Quietly

Gray morning light spits through the shade
Another day older, closer to the grave
Closer to the grave and come the dawn
I woke up this morning shackled and drawn

Bruce Springsteen


One day while teaching a class, I had the students run to their parents after doing a kick on the target and do 5pushups.

I explained to the parents ahead of time, “When your child comes over, watch their pushups. If they are strong,give them a thumbs up and if they are not, give them a thumbs down which means they have to do them again.” I thought I was clear with my directions until about two minutes into the drill when I heard one child’s mom yell out for all within two miles of the school to hear, “Those were the worst pushups I have ever seen in my life! Go do them again! That was an embarrassment.”

Apparently I was not specific enough, a visual cue was all I was looking for. This mother was right about one thing—it was an embarrassment—for her child.

How did we get to a point where people are so critical ? In the book Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard, authors Chip and Dan Heath write about a study performed by psychologists in which they analyzed every emotion-related word that they could find in the dictionary. The results? Only38% of emotion words are positive. Conversely, that means 62% are negative.Watch the news at night—it always starts with the most horrific stories and then after twenty-nine minutes and thirty seconds of grim news we get a30-second positive fluff piece. Unfortunately, our world is geared to look or react in a negative manner.

Here is the good news: At Action Karate we understand that praised behavior is repeated behavior. We train ourselves to look for what our students are doing right and tell them about it for all to hear. When things are a little off we quietly challenge them to rise above it.  


Mr. McCreery


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