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Catalytic Management

Praise, Golf and Masochistic Tendencies

I’m a golfer. Well, that might be exaggerating.  I pull a “sack of utensils” (my husband’s words) around the golf course and valiantly try to get a small ball into a small hole over 350 yards, two sand traps and many trees away.  So when I hear someone declare “I just got a hole in one”, I eagerly join in the celebration.  I’m just as thrilled as they are because if they can do it, well, then it is physically possible and some day I just might, just might, get the same exhilarating thrill. 


So I joined the exciting conversation in the club house at the Bridgton Highlands Golf course eager to hear the details.  Another golfer was asking the hole in one winner,  “ How long was the hole?”  “Are you a member of the club?”  The hole was 138 yards, number 13, par 3 and yes, the excited golfer was a member.  To which the questioner replied:  “ Hell that’s not a very long hole.  I’ve come close to making a hole in one on 13 lots of times”.  My husband, sensing danger, grabbed my arm and pulled me away before I could respond with a witty, ego deflating, sarcastic put down for the rude observer.  Crisis averted.


Why do people feel compelled to diminish the accomplishments of others?  Does insecurity drive this behavior?  Is it jealousy?  I’ll leave the root cause analysis to the shrinks and social workers who are more qualified than I am to find the reasons for such behavior.  My concern is with the results of the callous behavior.


As managers and leaders, giving praise is one of our most effective tools to energize and motivate our teams.  Alas, in many instances we are not very good at delivering praise.  When you say:  “Great job Matt.  I know we all waited a bit longer than we had anticipated for the project to be completed, but the results are great” you send a mixed message that dilutes the praise and dilutes the positive influence of the praise..  Diminishing praise by including negative comments is demoralizing for any one on your staff, but sales people are especially wounded by back handed compliments.  As sales people, we are often an insecure group, despite our apparent confidence or bravado.  Sales people especially need to hear sincere, unencumbered congratulations and reinforcement in order to get up every day and face rejection, cope with the pressure to succeed and deal with the fear that we are not doing every thing we should for the client or our company.  So, when one of your staff has earned praise or congratulations, give them the “high five” with no strings, no qualifiers and no jealousy.  Skipping the qualifiers guarantees your praise will drive future success!


Golfers need encouragement too!  So, despite no holes in one, despite a back swing that looks more like a swing that belongs in Fenway Park, and in spite of my sack of utensils, I’m off to the course to indulge the masochistic tendencies that kept me in sales for over 25 years and that will undoubtedly keep me wailing away at that little white ball until I too can proudly claim:  “I just got a hole in one”. And then, to my husband’s chagrin, I’ll tell those other jealous golfers who attempt to elevate themselves by diminishing my golfing miracle to “go stuff it”! That great day awaits.



For the secrets of managing and motivating teams, sales or otherwise, contact Catalytic Management at 978-562-5001.   Lessons from our pros can improve your game!

Words of Wisdom

"Blessed is he who has learned to admire but not envy, to follow but not imitate, to praise but not flatter and to lead but not manipulate"

William Arthur Ward

"I praise loudly, I blame softly"

Catherine the Great

For Your Funny Bone

Golf Proverbs:

The secret of good golf is to hit the ball hard, straight and not too often.

There are three ways to improve your golf game: take lessons, practice constantly ... or start cheating.

Golf got its name because all of the other four letter words were taken.


Catalytic Management
67 Edgehill Road • Stow, MA 01775
Phone: 978-562-5001 • Web:

Catalytic Management specializes in business performance and growth consulting
including sales effectiveness, customer service and business process improvement for companies
in New England and the Northeast.
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