A commenter inquired why the “good job” compliment isn’t intrinsic since “doing that good job comes from inside a person (an experience, or a value); it’s not something that can be taken away.” There are three main reasons. They also serve to explain why the compliment, while acceptable, is inferior to other compliments.
First, “doing a good job” is different from the “desire to do a good job.” Performance exists outside of us, desire within. People perform well for many reasons beyond the desire to do a good job: money, recognition, promotion, peer pressure etc. For example, two children can read the same difficult book; however, there is a difference between the child who reads the book for a promised candy bar and the other child who reads it for the love of reading.
Second, the determination of a good job is subjective; it varies by the person establishing standards and evaluating outcomes against those standards. You can “take away” a good performance by simply using a different evaluator. For example, other teachers might not consider the above book’s difficulty worthy of compliments.
Third, the product of a good job can be erased. A good painting could be destroyed, a good program terminated, and a good sales year erased with the start of a new one. “What have you done for me lately,” exemplifies the negation of performances. In the above example, the child’s reading of the difficult book might elevate his grade this period but won’t for the next one. However, the love of reading continues on.
Yes, the “good job” compliment is adequate. However, “Reading that book shows that you have a natural love for reading,” is far better. Again, it’s because we are complimenting a quality of the person (intrinsic) versus an outcome (extrinsic).