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… and it’ll really stretch your imagination after the first few times

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BadConsultant has been indulging in our favourite game these past few days. It’s something we stumbled over a few years back that just plain tickled us, and still does.

We call it

[drum roll]

“Sincere but Unfounded Praise”

Here’s how it works – and, as with all the best things in the world (like picking ear wax), it’s really not that complex. Basically, you have to praise someone with absolute sincerity – you really have to mean it. Not just saying the words… meaning it. But, and here’s the catch, the praise can’t be based on a single justifiable example of performance or contribution. It really has to be unfounded.

So, none of the typical “that report was really great”… Or the classic “thanks, you really got me out of a tight spot there”

Instead, walk past someone’s office and, with absolute sincerity, raise your arm in the air and high five… For no reason.

The first few times you do it, people will look at you oddly, with an only semi-present chuckle. But after a while, people will get the joke and get into the habit. Pretty soon, your empty, but oh-so-well-meant, praise will begin to raise a smile even before you say anything. And if you use Kapelikov’s manoeuvere (based on the rule that you can never use the same praise on the same person twice) then your imagination will be really stretched.

Here are some of our personal favourites:

  • Great! You REALLY made a difference!
  • Thanks, you give great meaning…
  • Yes, you did!

Remember, none of these should be connected in any way with anything your target did. It has to be unfounded, or the game doesn’t work.

Why play?

Well, you know when someone gets a glint in their eye? When there’s an in-joke that everyone understands? Well that’s what the “Sincere but Unfounded Praise” game creates in a team.

Now, go and play… And if you invent any variations or manoeuvres, please drop us a line here or at and tell us about it.

Hasta l’huego,