Monday tip: Praise by email

The Chief Happiness Officer's monday tipsYour mission for today is to pick 5 people that you think deserve praise and send them each an email praising them or their work.

Not a loooooong mail, just a couple of lines and, of course, the email has to be specific to that person – you can’t send out a generic email to 5 people sayng “great work guys!”

You can write something like

Hi John

I’m just writing to say that I really appreciated your input at our last meeting. Those were some really good ideas. Thank you!

Best regards


And here’s the crucial part: At the bottom of the mail ask each of them to send 5 other people a similar email:

I’ve sent an email to 5 people who I feel really deserve honorable mention – now it’s your turn. Think of 5 people who you feel deserve praise and send them each a similar email, including this instruction to pass on the praise. Let’s see what happens!

Then stand back and watch an avalanche of praise rip through the organization.

The Chief Happiness Officer’s monday tips are simple, easy, fun things you can do to make yourself and others happy at work and get the work-week off to a great start. Something everyone can do in five minutes, tops. When you try it, write a comment here to tell me how it went.

Previous monday tips.

11 thoughts on “Monday tip: Praise by email”

  1. You’ve GOT to be joking. Sending chain mail, however pleasant its content might ostensibly be, is about as socially acceptable as spitting on the floor.

  2. i’d consider simply asking them to send it on. perhaps something like, “please send praise others” or something rather than being so chain mail esque and asking them to send it to five other people

  3. We actually have a system at work called “Snaps” (yes, like in Legally Blonde 2), where anyone in our office can send an email to a particular address “giving Snaps” to someone to thank them for helping out or to praise them for doing something well. This email is then anonymised and forwarded to their manager, and read out in the team meeting. It’s a good way of giving praise that avoids the problem of embarrassment over appreciating people (here in Australia, known as “tall-poppy syndrome”)… and it also helps that it’s appreciation that more often comes from peers than management.

    Once a month, a person who has received Snaps and is deemed most deserving gets “Super Snaps” – a $50 voucher or movie/sporting/concert tickets.

    It’s a great system – more companies should use it :)

  4. I’m kind of leery about this approach as given. The initial concept is nice. But…

    1) This smacks of chain mail, which most people consider spam and not altogether welcome.

    2) The out-of-the-blue praise is awesome, especially when making it specific. But a lot of that effect can be stolen away with the, “and send this on to 5 people,” or even to just one other person. It makes it look like a chain mail YOU maybe got and are just filling your quota. It takes away a lot of the sincerity.

  5. skud: I hadn’t thought of chain mail as inherently evil, but i know a lot of people are really annoyed about it. Thanks!

    jason: That’s a great way to modify it.

    Vicki: Snaps! I love it! Who came up with it? How many people use it?

    LonerVamp: I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re probably right. Maybe it’s better to take out the chain email aspect and just send a few people an email of praise. Maybe they’ll pick it u and pass it on on their own…

  6. You could definitely do that. Chances are they may reply or give you an in person, “Thanks,” and a smile. You could then take that opportunity to say, “You know, I’m glad you liked that, and I really meant it. Perhaps if you know anyone who deserves some praise, you can pass some support on to them?”

    You can then make it a little more viral like chain mail, without stealing away from the effect or making it too chain mail-like.

  7. Well – I did it! The first chain-mail ever to come from my fingers. And yet – it didn’t feel like a chain mail. And why? I think because of the personalized content. The people who received the praise couldn’t help but noticing it was written for them and them only. So therefore I hardly think its a chain mail.

    The results? Overwhelming. And if not that – then absolutely a boost of wellbeing. Some people sent me praise back and for that I’m really happy. And the funny thing is that it doesn’t really matter to what degree people actually meant what they wrote – the same way your 200 pound wife don’t want your comments one her weight. A “you look beautiful” will do – shes happy.
    In short people smiled…

    (And by coincidence I stayed late that day :-)

  8. Andreas: I’m really glad it worked! I agree, the personalized content takes some of the “chaininess” out of it. Thanks for trying it.

    What else happened? I want details :o)

  9. It is a great idea. The key is to personalize it. Probably for my organization, with lots of international people, it’s better to offer more flexibility. Instead of thanking 5 people in one day, just thank 5 people during the week so that your emails are more genuine and spontaneous.

    Looking forward to more tips.

    p.s.: you probably know about this, but check out the U shape curve of happiness,

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