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 The Power of Applause: Boosting motivation in a nation

The Power of Applause: Boosting motivation in a nation

A few weeks ago at a public lecture, an attendee asked an interesting question after the distinguished speaker had given a tremendous account of himself and his colleagues. His question was this: “With so much talent in the country, why is our country not soaring?”


The speaker, maybe out of humility, declined to answer. Your columnist, in a rather impetuous mood, offered an answer – because we don’t applaud enough in this country.

It wasn’t the first time I had made that quip. My friend, Mrs Georgina Fiagbenu of MTN, and I have declared a campaign on clapping, which we trumpet at every opportunity, and I was quite pleased with myself for introducing it at that grand event.

I thought that was the matter until two people who were at the lecture raised it with me. At which point I decided to spread the idea by exploring it further in this column.

In short, my theory is that if we want our country to become a happier place, we need to develop the habit of applauding people when they deserve it. In Ghana, applause is something that has become a rare commodity. Masters of ceremony have to appeal and cajole audiences and participants to show any appreciation. At almost every event I have attended in this country, it has fallen on the MC to literally beg the audience to show appreciation even after a sterling performance.

Oh, you can do better and let us show some love are some of the more regular expressions used by MCs to get people to “put their hands together.”

Why is applause important? In the grand theatre of life, applause serves as more than just a simple display of admiration or appreciation; it possesses the remarkable ability to motivate individuals, inspire greatness and uplift nations as a whole.

Whether it is acknowledging heroic acts, celebrating academic achievements or recognising remarkable creative endeavours, applause has a profound impact that extends far beyond the immediate moment.

Drawing upon psychological authority, we explore the benefits of applause on a national scale, unravelling the captivating ways in which the sound of clapping hands can serve as a powerful catalyst for personal growth, collective inspiration and societal progress.

The psychology behind applause:

To understand the true potency of applause, let us delve into the realm of psychology. Renowned psychologist B.F. Skinner postulated that positive reinforcement is a key driver in shaping behaviour.

He explains that applause, with its positive nature, triggers a surge of dopamine—a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward—in the brain. This surge fosters a sense of achievement, creating a strong desire for individuals to replicate their success or exceed their past accomplishments.

Applause acts as a beacon of encouragement, lighting the path for aspiring individuals to strive for greatness. When one person receives applause for their achievements, it not only validates their hard work but also inspires others to embark on their own quests for success.

 This ripple effect ignites a spirit of healthy competition, fuelling a nation with waves of innovation and creativity.

Consider the impact of applauding exceptional students—those who shine in academics or extracurricular activities. When their efforts are celebrated, it sends a powerful message to their peers, motivating them to reach higher, dream bigger and invest their energy into cultivating their unique talents. The resounding claps become a driving force behind a nation's intellectual growth.

Applause has an uncanny ability to unite people across a nation, fostering a sense of belonging and pride. When individuals witness extraordinary acts of bravery or selflessness being applauded, it reinforces the values and aspirations of the collective.

It sends a resolute message that such actions are not only commendable but also expected from each citizen.

Psychological studies have shown that applauding heroes for their courageous deeds enhances the likelihood of ordinary citizens stepping up to make a difference. When this phenomenon takes hold at a societal level, it leads to a wave of compassionate action and serves as a reminder that every person holds the power to create positive change.

The sound of applause acts as a balm for the weary soul, providing solace to those who face adversity. Whether it be during times of national crisis or personal struggle, applause serves as a testament to the indomitable human spirit.

 Those who receive applause for their resilience in the face of challenges become beacons of hope, sharing their experiences to inspire others to persevere.

In Ghana, where applause has become an endangered act, is it any wonder that we seem to be achieving less now than we did in the past?

 Consider this: the World Athletics Championships have just concluded in Budapest. I watched a lot of it on television, hoping to catch a glimpse of a Ghanaian participant.

It was a struggle. In the end, I was rewarded with a single track event in which our representative was eliminated in the first heat. The event went almost completely unreported in our media. How do we hope to motivate others when we are so silent about the achievements of our heroes?

On the other hand, while we are slow to applaud heroics, we are quick to condemn – sometimes where condemnation is even unjustified. Our inability to applaud people for their effort and achievement is beginning to define our country as a nation of whiners and grumblers.

 It was not always like this. We used to be a nation that showered people with appreciation even for small acts of kindness. People who represented us or their communities or school or clubs were applauded to the skies and materially rewarded.

For example, the day after a football victory, players just needed to take a stroll in town. They would be mobbed and provided with cash, goods and plenty of love.

Today, we are unable to appreciate our players because we envy them for the rewards of their talents.

We need to change this attitude because in the symphony of human emotions, applause emerges as a unifying force that transcends borders, beliefs, and biases.

Its power to motivate, inspire and ignite change within a nation is undeniable. From encouraging individual excellence to fostering a collective sense of pride, applause holds immense potential to shape the course of a society.

As we continue to celebrate achievements, honour heroes and recognise untapped potential, let us remember the resounding power of applause.

In our collective act of clapping hands together, we not only create an echo of support but also lay the foundation for a brighter, more motivated and harmonious nation. Come to think of it; it is not for nothing that we have two hands.

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