Pay A Compliment Day is on February 6th! This annual holiday is a nice reminder to show our appreciation for those around us. On Pay A Compliment Day, you could choose to make an extra effort to notice the good in people and to tell them what you appreciate about them.
We all know how good it feels when someone pays us a compliment. Research has confirmed that doing this is good for both the giver and the receiver. Here are five scientifically-backed benefits of compliments.
1. Receiving compliments lights up reward circuits in your brain.
Studies have shown that receiving a compliment from another person causes the release of dopamine in certain parts of the brain. These are the same circuits that are activated when you get a monetary reward. Therefore, receiving a compliment feels just as good as getting paid! But you can offer compliments to people around you for free, and you’ll never run out.
2. People learn and perform better after receiving compliments.
Another study showed that people performed better at learning a new task when they received compliments for their progress. The researchers showed evidence that the compliments directly enhanced the brain circuits that are responsible for learning. In other words, complimenting people didn’t just make them more willing to put in the effort to learn – it also made the learning process itself easier.
Compliments can even improve productivity at work. A study done by university researchers involved giving different types of bonuses to workers at a large tech company. They found that while monetary bonuses did lead to an increase in performance, giving praise for good work actually led to an even greater increase. This demonstrates how powerful it is to give people genuine compliments.
3. Giving compliments helps you practice optimism.
Although receiving a compliment is certainly great for you, compliments benefit the giver too. Lots of research has shown the power of an optimistic outlook. In fact, a high level of optimism has been shown to increase your lifespan by eight years.
When you give compliments, you’re practicing looking for the good all around you. This helps to train your brain to be more optimistic, which in turn has been shown to improve your mood, enhance the function of your immune system, and increase your longevity.
4. Compliments are best when they’re genuine and specific.
Although compliments are very powerful, they have to be perceived as genuine for them to have these positive effects. Most people can easily tell false praise when they hear it, so make sure you’re being authentic when you offer a compliment. A compliment that feels faked or overexaggerated can actually have the opposite effect, creating negative feelings in the other person.
In addition, try to call out something specific with your compliment. Saying something general like “you’re so nice” likely won’t have as much impact as saying, “I really appreciated the thoughtful text you sent me.”
5. People tend to underestimate the positive impact of compliments.
Studies have shown that many people consistently underestimate how good a compliment will make another person feel. They may feel awkward expressing their appreciation of someone else, and this can block them from giving compliments.
Try to keep in mind that science demonstrates how much of a positive impact a compliment can have. It can help to remember a time when you were complimented, and how good it made you feel. Even if you initially feel awkward expressing your feelings, both you and the receiver of the compliment are going to feel great after you give it. Focusing on what that will feel like can help to overcome any resistance that you might experience.