Why we don't dole out many compliments – but should - Deepstash

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Giving and receiving compliments

Giving and receiving compliments

Receiving sincere and well-expressed compliments can feel very good. But our anxiety about how others may perceive our words can stop us from giving compliments as we don't want to come across as patronising or flattering. 

Yet, studies show that our fears of giving and receiving compliments are unfounded. Letting go of that reluctance can improve our relationships with our friends, family members and colleagues.

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The rule of reciprocity

  • Studies show that when individuals receive a compliment, they are almost twice as likely to comply with a request.
  • Another study show this comes from a sense of reciprocity. The more people believe that one kind deed deserves another, the more likely they are to repay a compliment with a helpful act.
  • In the workplace, positive feedback can be a powerful tool. Research shows that verbal praise was more effective at increasing productivity than cash bonuses.

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Compliments increase happiness

Several studies show that participants underestimated how happy another person would be to hear praise and overestimated how cringe-worthy they would find the exchange. 

  • Participants worry they will articulate the compliment wrongly. But the research shows that the recipient only cares how nice the praise is.
  • Another fear is that overcomplimenting might make some people bored of your praise or find it tiresome. However, even this reaction is far less likely than we think.

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Compliment etiquette

A compliment is an effective way to make other people feel happy. And it doesn't cost you a thing.

  • Context is important. It is not proper to compliment someone's appearance if there's a risk of objectifying them.
  • Stick to compliments that really convey someone's social value. For example, praise on a presentation or the way someone handled a difficult client.
  • If you have a kind thought that shows respect to the other person, share it.

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