Why We Praise the Process, Not the Talent

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So often I hear parents affirm their children by saying, “good boy” or “you are so smart” after they perform a praise-worthy task.  I cringe whenever I hear it.  The parent has good intentions but I’m afraid the praise is directed in the wrong way.

Last year I did a book study on Mindset by Carol Dweck.  In the book they spoke of two groups of kids.  One group, we will call group A, was praised for their talent or intelligence.  The other group, group B, was praised for their effort or process.

Next they offered the kids a more challenging activity.  What they found was that group A didn’t accept the challenge.  They were afraid they would no longer be smart, but group B was eager to attempt it.  According to Dweck, “Praising talent or intelligence harms their motivation and performance the moment things go wrong.”


Examples of praising the process

  • You must have worked really hard!
  • I love the effort!
  • I love seeing you smile!
  • You were so diligent.  Great job!
  • You did a good job listening.
When interacting with others or even just yourself, emphasize the process.  You will yield much better results.  What process phrases do you prefer?  Share in the comments below.
Casey Bresnahan
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