Compliments are one of the best forms of workplace currency. They’re free to give out and can have a big impact on yourself and your colleagues.

Compliments or money?

Not only do compliments make us feel good, partially due to realease of dopamine in the brain, they work as a strong motivator as well. Researchs shows that compliments even help improve performance in the same way as receiving a financial reward. The same area of the brain, the striatum, is activated when a person is rewarded, whether the reward is cash or a compliment. So compliments on behaviour work as a great positive reïnforcement; the receiver of a compliment will want to show that same behaviour again to get the same positive emotion. Therefor compliments, rather than sanctions, have a more positive and longer lasting effect.

Compliments promote learning

Sharing compliments can also aid learning of new skills while we are sleeping. When we sleep our brain processes information from the day and stores it in our long term memory. Researchers theorize that praise gives a memory boost to the brain that helps to learn more efficiëntly while we sleep. So if you are learning a new skill or want to help your colleagues to learn, you can speed up the process by giving compliments on behaviour.

Giving a compliment with impact

If that isn’t enough, sharing compliments in your team creates a positive vibe and helps to connect with your colleagues. However, telling someone they did ‘a good job’ or even saying ‘you’re the best’, may not have the positive effect you would expect. There are some ‘rules’ for giving a compliment with impact:

  • Make sure to be as specific as possible. Instead of saying ‘a good job’, tell the person exactly what he or she did good.
  • Be genuine; if you don’t mean what you say, it may feel like a trick for you and the person receiving the compliment.
  • Make it personal. Call someone by the name, take a moment to connect and let the other respond to your compliment.

Who will you give a compliment today?

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