In his excellent new book, Big Potential, Shawn Achor advises that comparison praising is not a good idea. He notes that we tend to praise people by comparing them to others; that is, lifting one person up at the expense of another. Rather than, “You gave the best speech of all the speakers,” say “Your speech was absolutely terrific.” The easiest way to stop comparison praise is simply to eliminate superlatives from our vocabulary – “the best,” “the fastest,” “the smartest,” “the prettiest.”
Achor says it is also wise to avoid performance reviews that “grade” employees on some numerical scale. He quotes Theodore Roosevelt who once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” If we really want to enhance others, we must stop comparing.