What does "Kudos" actually mean?

In his column "What does... actually mean?" Benno Maggi deals with terms from the marketing and communications sector. This time he deals with the Greek term "Kudos".

Ancient though, nevertheless the cuddly term should also get its stroke once. Kudos, you are a super word! It is a Greek word (κῦδος) - really old - and means "praise" and "glory". The term made the leap into English usage, it is believed, through the poet Robert Southey in a formal speech describing King George III. A tribute or homage of sorts, it both extolled and criticized the ruler's virtues, achievements and positive qualities. It was not until the 19th century that students and British politicians picked up the term again. And today it is part of everyday language. Even if not used by everyone.

Kudos is a kind of virtual pat on the back and is thrown at each other like stuffed bears, especially in gaming, forums and online projects.

Kudos means praise, honor, or recognition for achievements or successes. Now, praise is just an informal expression used to express approval or appreciation for a person's efforts, accomplishments, or actions, and to acknowledge them. Kudos is the same thing, just more empathetic. It's something we all need. Especially anyone involved in complex projects with sprints, milestones, and deep dives seems addicted to it right now. A hearty-sounding "Kudos" like that helps keep your spirits up, and the recipient is happy that someone is giving them praise or recognition for their work. And it sounds warmer than a "Chapeau!", a "Well done!" or a "High five".

Praise is a question of age

Too little praise is bad. Baby boomers can tell you a thing or two about that. For them, the rule "nothing said is praised enough" still applied. In the past, feedback was always negative, and positive feedback was superfluous. Fortunately, this generation is heading straight for retirement.

Generation X grew up with a 1:1 ratio between praise and criticism. It was easier to live with that. And those who are now in charge in many places in our rather young industry, namely the Millennials, are, in terms of kudos, Generation "W," which means praise-criticism-praise-criticism-praise ratio. And they are used to a 3:2 ratio.

And those who would like to be in control and who are sometimes allowed to take the controls briefly as advisors, prophets, explainers or for amusement, namely the GenZers, need a ratio of praise to criticism of about 5:1. And that's a good thing.

Why? Each of us needs praise. In today's world, with all the uncertainties, this is even more pronounced than it used to be. And, praise is good for you. Try it out instead of snotting over the cuddly Kudos. Let yourself be infected by the cute things. If that is too soft for them, then it can also be a banal "Häsch guet gmacht!" or a strong "Stark von dir! Simply focus more on the positive. That will probably not be easy for many people. But it is necessary. It costs nothing. And it works wonders. But be careful: Please do not use praise to compensate for neglect by spoiling. Everyone who has children and/or doesn't like spoiled children knows this.

Benno Maggi is co-founder and CEO of Partner & Partner. He has been eavesdropping on the industry for over 30 years, discovering words and terms for us that can either be used for small talk, pomposity, excitement, playing Scrabble, or just because.

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