What are you wearing today? Is it a cotton sweater, or is it a nylon dress? Is it perhaps a wool suit? Chances are, you haven’t given much thought to the origins of your outfit today.

But think about it for a moment. The entire textile industry consists of taking raw materials and conditioning them, through chemicals or other processes, until they are fine enough to be spun into yarn and turned into fabric for a garment.

In Chapter 17 of The Principles of Education and Guidance, the Previous Rebbe compares the process of educating a child into a goodhearted and upright student to taking raw materials and processing them to achieve beautiful end results.

And the conditioning? According to Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, words of praise are what conditions a student to be open to the words of his teachers.

Not only is praise a form of conditioning, but it is a tool in and of itself. Like a paintbrush in the hands of an artist, words of praise assist an educator or mentor to make a masterpiece out of a child.

Words of praise motivate. They build up a student. They kindle a fire and a desire to live up to the mentor’s expectations. Positive and uplifting words make a mentee or client (or friend or spouse) receptive to his or her mentor.

Sometimes, words of reproach are necessary. However, when they are offered against a backdrop of love—with firm trust between the student and teacher, child and parent—then the child can hear and internalize and grow from what his mentor is saying.

Because he was already conditioned with praise.

Self-reflection: Am I uplifting my mentees with words of praise? Am I using enough words of praise throughout my day?