Catch Them Doing Something Right

If you see someone doing something admirable, give him immediate and specific feedback. Feedback is the breakfast of champions! When you see the good in others, you’ll see the good in yourself!

3 min

Dennis Rosen

Posted on 23.04.23

I recently heard a shiur by Rabbi Zev Golombeck who suggests that when you see someone doing a meritorious act, you should make a special effort to give praise and encouragement. This will make both that person and you feel like a million dollars. Giving encouragement and positive reinforcement to another person is one of the purposes of our creation.  
You are doing a “three for one.” You are complimenting and encouraging another person; you are giving yourself simcha; and you’re giving tremendous nachas (pleasure) to our Father in Heaven. Rabbi Golombeck observes that most of the time we are wrapped up in ourselves. When do we make time to think about other people’s positive traits and actions?  

Be proactive and look for ways to praise others. You will make yourself happy, make others happy. and then you’ll also make Hashem happy. This will make the world a better place to live, and we’ll have more unity and simcha. 


In one of his recent daily emuna emails Rabbi David Ashear brings down a story from Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein about a rabbi who has been highly successful in spreading Torah teachings and who is one of thousands of descendants from a single person. He describes the spiritual journey of this ancestor whose name was Yaakov and how it all began with some words of warmth and empathy from a single person. 


Yaakov was a young man from a religious home who unfortunately lost his father at a very young age. He subsequently drifted away from religion and moved far from his hometown. However, as his father’s yahrzeit (anniversary of one’s passing) approached, he remembered that he had made a promise to his father that he would always say kaddish for him on that date. 


He had no idea where there was a synagogue in the town that he resided and spent extensive time wandering around till he finally found one. He was nervous and embarrassed to walk into the synagogue because of the way he was dressed. When he arrived, the congregation was saying the Amidah. 


He walked into the back of the room and sat in the corner until it was time to say kaddish. He then hurried to leave as soon as possible. As he was making his way towards the door, the rabbi of the city, Rav Yitzchak Dov HaLevi Bamberger, caught up to him and gave him the warmest greeting. Instead of rebuking him for his dress, he told him how much he admired him for coming to shul to say Kaddish. Yaakov stood there with tears in his eyes. He had been feeling so guilty about leaving Torah and mitzvot, and now he felt so special from the Rabbi’s uplifting words. He continued speaking to the Rabbi and became re-energized to come back to religion.  


He eventually married a religious young woman, and they were blessed with a large family that they raised as Torah observant. And now, 150 years after that Kaddish, Yaakov has over 5,000 offspring, all Shomrei Torah and mitzvot. 


Let’s be on the lookout for opportunities to give people positive feedback and encouragement. This is one of the main aspects of the commandment to love your neighbor. Rabbi Zelig Pliskin teaches we should focus on the virtues of other people rather than their flaws. In this way we will radiate positivity and experience a sense of well-being. 


I read an excellent article by Nate Demare entitled 6 Big Reasons You Should Only See the Best in Others. The author states that when you see the best in others, you can only win. If they have the same values and qualities as you, you feel happy and connected. If they are better than you at something, you become inspired and look to them as an example. 


On the other hand, if you look at someone’s faults, you can only lose. You feel negativity towards them. You start to feel superior to them (you’re not). And worst of all, you spend less time fixing your own faults.


In the video The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard, he says the key principle is to catch people doing something right. When we see someone doing something admirable, we should give them feedback. Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Don’t gunnysack feedback. Feedback should be immediate and specific, and we should let them know how we feel. This will encourage people to continue to do more positive acts and help them fulfill their potential. 


May we encourage and strengthen each other in our service to Hashem. When we look for the good in others, we’ll bring out the best in ourselves! 

Tell us what you think!

1. Gavriel Shapiro


Dennis this is excellent commentary with good sources. Well put together.
Do you think it would shine even brighter with a recent example you witnessed, gave or received– or all three?
Isn’t inspiration more powerful when it can be seen close to home?

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