Praise and Motivation

Germans believe that too much praise can lead employees to „rest on their laurels“, to not continue to work at a high level of intensity. In order to avoid that effect, Germans praise good work in moderate terms. This signals that there is more upside potential. It aims to motivate.

Germans seldom score work results as near perfect or perfect. „Close to perfect“ is the best one can expect. German business psychologists see a weakness in this approach, though. They believe that more praise would increase employee motivation and thus productivity.

Sich auf seinen Lorbeeren ausruhen. To rest on one‘s laurels. To relax after having produced good work results; after success to not strive for more. During the Middle Ages laurels were a sign of fame. The winner of a jousting tournament or a battle had a laurel wreath placed on their head.

Deflation. When the price for products and services decreases; when money loses its value. German economic and monetary policy aims to maintain the value of goods and services, but most importantly to prevent inflation. When it comes to praise, Germans take a conservative, restrictive, deflationary approach.

Deflationary. In feedback discussions the Germans consciously use deflationary terms. Honesty and transparency are seen as guarantees for effective, clear communication. „Say what you mean and mean what you say“ is the German logic. People should speak their minds freely and without inflationary euphemisms.

Den Tag nicht vor dem Abend loben translates into „Don‘t praise the day until the night has arrived“; don‘t count your accomplishments before the day is over; don‘t be confident of something until it has actually happened.