We all love hearing positive praise, it makes us feel good. There is nothing wrong with that, but it could cause problems if you make decisions based solely on that praise. Here’s why it’s important not to rely on Facebook praise and how to use it responsibly.

False praise can lead to overconfidence

Most people don’t realize they are giving false praise — they think they are being polite when they leave a comment on Facebook. Their politeness can lead you down an overconfident path. Here’s a personal example. Wildlife and nature photographer Scott Bourne came for a visit. We went out early one morning to photograph at a well-known birding spot. I’m a sports and portrait photographer that rarely photographs wildlife. Scott gave several great tips that led me to take a few good shots. I posted these on Facebook and the praise I received from fellow photographers and friends was overwhelming — “Wow, you should shoot more wildlife photos, these are the BEST I’ve ever seen!”

The best you’ve ever seen?

I appreciate the praise but I’m realistic. The images may appear good, but they are not magazine quality. Besides, I basically did what Scott told me to do. I know for a fact I couldn’t consistently reproduce those shots on my own. How, in one lesson, could I achieve the same skill set it took Scott a lifetime to develop? Don’t get me wrong, if it’s something you’re passionate about and you are willing to devote time and energy to it, then do it but with realistic expectations. Thinking I could drop my sports and portraits career and instantly make a living as a wildlife photographer is unrealistic.

Be happy but never satisfied

When training for the Triple Crown in karate, my instructor used to motivate us by barking:

“Satisfaction is an excuse for laziness. Be happy with your performance but never be satisfied. You can always do better!”

This sounds harsh, but it isn’t if you apply it correctly. The keyword is happy. I was happy to place third in the prestigious Canadian Nations as a rookie. Although it wasn’t the first-place title, I performed my best. Spectators approached me and praised my performance saying I was robbed and I deserved first place. I appreciated their praise but I acknowledge the champion performed better and deserved the title. I celebrated with the team and was happy at the moment. The following Monday I reflected on my strengths and started working on my weaknesses. I was happy but not satisfied with the win. I strove to do better.

Use Facebook praise responsibly

Here are a few suggestions to help you use Facebook praise responsibly:

  • When you’re feeling down or discouraged, read previous well deserved praise to help lift your spirits.
  • Consider the source for both positive and negative comments. Hollywood photographer Mike Kubeisy is one of my biggest critics. When he praises me on a job well done, I know it’s well deserved just as much as when he gives me constructive criticism. He is part of a network of trusted people I’ve built over the years.
  • Evaluate the praise and learn to look at it from both sides. You may or may not see what others think is great.
  • The praise you receive today can be a negative comment you receive tomorrow. Don’t let it inflated or deflated your self-worth. Learn to look at it as a performance and separate you, the performer from the performance. This will help keep you grounded and not let negativity affect you as much.

Appreciate the praise you receive on Facebook, but don’t rely on it to be a measurement of your success. Rely on yourself. When in doubt, ask advice from the network of trusted people you have built that aren’t afraid to tell you what you need but sometimes may not want to hear.