I just finished the final round up of meetings with my advisors for the year. I like my advisors. Putting aside important things like suggestions on further readings or feedback on particular chapters, my advisors have been pretty good at something at least as important. They usually make me feel like I'm not wasting my time. Half the time what I really need is this little pat on the back.
Writing a dissertation is such a solitary process that sometimes it gets hard to tell if what you're talking about is interesting to anyone else. A little praise on an argument/chapter/the whole thing makes it easier to keep going with the whole enterprise. Heck, even a, "This is a really interesting chapter even though you need to make substantial changes to this and that," gets the job done. I have time to fix it, I just want to know that it's worth fixing. I keep waiting to get the dreaded, "This project/chapter/argument is fundamentally misguided," but until that happens I'm just going to keep pressing forward.
Oh, and I realize I tend to start my comments on the papers I'm grading with, "This is a pretty good paper."
-- Second Suitor