I was never a cheerleader, partly because I never learned how to do a cartwheel. But mostly, I was never a cheerleader because there was no way I was going to be on the sidelines of anything, much less a football field where all of the fun and glory were reserved for boys.
And I was never much of a team player, partly because I always wanted to be captain of the team. But mostly, I was never a team player because I wasn’t good enough to play soccer or baseball, and I wasn’t nerdy enough to try out for chess club or the debate team.
None of these personality quirks or athletic shortcomings diminished my love of cheers and the spirit behind them. I take great pleasure in telling a gifted writer that she’s talented enough to write a bestseller, a CEO that he has the vision to take his company to the billion-dollar level and an abused woman that she has the courage to get out – and stay out – of a dangerous relationship.
No Pulpit Required
I’ve happily discovered that I don’t need a pompon to encourage people or a letterman jacket to motivate them. I don’t need a pulpit to spread messages of hope and symbols of celebration. As long as I have the genuine desire to make people smile or help them succeed, the tools to do so will present themselves.
And it’s not as if the tools are complicated. It’s easy enough to voice a compliment, pat a back or pump a fist. Or to click on the appropriate emoticon before sending a message in social media.
It’s really not hard to send a message that clearly says, “I support you,” “I applaud you,” “I want to see more of this!”
Or so I thought.
In social media, my shorthand for these sentiments most often takes the form of “Here, Here!” followed by a sentence or three explaining my exultation.
Someone recently wondered if had misspelled “here.” Didn’t I mean “hear?”
Hear Me Here
No, I did not.
“Hear, Hear,” roughly translated as “I hear you!” is a perfectly fine affirmation.
But “Here, Here!” is the equivalent of “Put it here!” or “Give me five!” It’s much more than a head nod. It’s a cacophonous shout-out. It’s a standing ovation.
“Here, Here!” is the KOTAW cheer!
For anyone who’s been confused about my intentions (or command of English), please be assured that “Here, Here!” is high praise. And take a bow if the cheer appears in your feed.
Praise Without Pride
For months and months, I’ve tried to work a certain bit of language semantics into a blog post. It’s also a parenting and team leadership philosophy. And an integral factor in personal branding. Thanks to the person who brought up the hear/here question, I now have a relevant reason for suggesting each and every one of you ban this phrase from your vocabulary:
I’m proud of you!
Huh? Isn’t that a cheerleading, motivating, inspiring phrase? Why could that sentence possibly make a congratulatory person like me uncomfortable?
Because it suggests that the person making the statement deserves all or most of the credit for an accomplishment.
I have no right to be proud when Bri’s prose makes me laugh and cry in a single paragraph or when Kelsey’s artwork makes me drop my jaw in wonder. I didn’t write the words or paint the canvas. I don’t own any of their accomplishments and resist the temptation to take pride in them.
What I like to tell them is that I’m impressed and that they should be proud of themselves.
I think it’s a great personal branding tenet – especially for C-level executives — to avoid siphoning their employees’ pride. Build up their confidence without taking credit for their achievements.
Want to offer someone praise without a hint of self-congratulations? Try “Great job!” Or “Way to Go!
Even better, consider the KOTAW cheer: Here, Here!
Want to join the social media pep rally? Tell us how you support your fans, followers and esteemed colleagues (aka “influencers”) in social media. What’s your version of the KOTAW cheer?