A little praise and encourgement can boost the morale of your employees.

Does your boss praise and reward you for a job well done? Does your supervisor let you know where you can improve? Do you like where you work? Do you like your customers?

While it is impossible to completely change someone else's behavior, you can modify yours. You can also change how things affect you. The way to begin is by using praise or compliments to respond to the world around you. Being positive is more difficult than being negative, but it is rewarding.

Find something positive about someone and tell him or her about it. Effective compliments require the use of five steps:

1. Take note of your positive feelings about the other person.

2. Describe what you like about what the other person does, says, is or has.

3. Express your feelings, not only verbally but also nonverbally.

4. Identify the effect the person has on you, the people around you or with customers.

5. Be quiet and let the person absorb your comments.

When your bosses compliment you on a job well done, you may have to guess what part of the job they really liked. Why not ask what they liked? If the bosses were using the five steps above, you would know what you have done that was so pleasing and continue to improve in that direction. Compliments must describe specifically what it is that is so pleasing. By describing the action, you can encourage the person to continue on the same path, step by step.

Little praise

Managers that don't praise or compliment often have poor self-esteem. They often say the reason they don't compliment is the person who is praised will hound them for more money. They are unaware of how effective praising can be in motivating their fellow workers.

The lack of effective praising in the sales department can become a self-fulfilling prophecy of low productivity. I sat in on an annual evaluation of a sales manager, where the president praised the manager all day until we got down to discussing his pay for the coming year. If I did not know better, I would have thought we were talking about two different people.

The problem with complimenting and praising is that people need to be held accountable for various aspects of their jobs. Any pay increase is then based on whether they met or exceeded their goals. Praising moves people in the right direction, but their pay is determined by whether they meet the goals.

Being positive is very difficult; it is a learned skill. In my classes, we teach salespeople to "review and debrief" before and after every sales call. The purpose is for sales staffers to improve themselves and the way they sell. Somebody always says, "What about the negative things, the things we did wrong." My answer is always: think positively about yourself and your sales calls, and they will become better. Dwell on the negative things and you will find yourself in a hole, dug by you.

Bad days, good results

I am a firm believer that if you are having a bad day, you can turn it around by making your mind think of positive things. In a matter of an hour or two, you'll be happier and feeling better. You control who you are and what you want to be.

Simply by changing your internal response to unexpected and unwanted behavior from prospects and customers, you will be able to regain momentum. Consider sandwiching a request between compliments such as: "You've always been a straight shooter with me and I appreciate that. I have always enjoyed calling on you because we have a great exchange of ideas and I learn something every time I call here."

Wait for a response. Listen to how the response is given and what is said. If it's positive, ask for what you want. Be reasonable.

Once you have what you want, thank them for the order and ask for the chance to bid on their next job.

If you are able to accept refusal without pouting or feeling rejected, then you are on the road to less frustration and better relationships.

(Dave Gleason has more than 40 years of experience in contracting, engineering and wholesaling. He has put these experiences into a comprehensive consultation and training company called Systematic Selling Inc., which offers customized sales seminars and workshops. Contact him at 1165 Antioch Campground Road, Gainesville, GA 30506; phone (800) 447-7355; fax (717) 698-6555.)