Mark Twain once said, “I can live two months on one good compliment.” While perhaps a slight exaggeration by Mr. Twain, there are tons of research readily available online that reinforces the power of a heartfelt compliment. Not only does the recipient feel the boost of the acknowledgement, but the sender can also experience the positive reflection of brightening someone’s day.
For the last year, co-worker Jeanna Antonino and I have tried to track our compliment giving behavior, attempting to document three genuine compliments each week. We’ve had some good weeks and some not so good weeks. Why is it that something so simple is so difficult to remember to do?
So I decided to get serious. One morning I put seven elastic hair ties on my left wrist. My goal was to give 7 compliments that day, moving the hair tie from one wrist to the other as I completed each one. Here’s my documentation:
7:16am Josh had worked extra hard during our office move, so I presented him with a small gift, looked him in the eye and sincerely thanked him for all he did to go above and beyond to make the move happen.
12:29pm Jeanna had taken care of a tremendous amount of special paperwork for the business on top of her million other responsibilities, so I thanked her for taking care of the details and presented her with a gift card.
At this point, I realized that I was relying on the gift-giving part of the gesture to support my complimenting efforts, and I didn’t have any more gifts to give. So with two hair ties on my right wrist, I focused on giving compliments only with my words.
1:38pm Alene had suddenly taken on some additional workload, so as she walked past me, I stopped her to let her know she was going a great job managing the transition. She thanked me for noticing.
3:50pm While driving back from a client meeting, I praised Nicole her for her communication skills and her ability to build trust with clients. As her whole face lit up, I noted to her that she should always have client-facing opportunities because she’s so good at it.
5:35pm That evening I went to an open house and congratulated Dave on his very cool new office space and the attention to the party details.
As the day was drawing to a close, I still had two hair ties on my left wrist and was home with only my daughter and my dog still awake to participate in my experiment. While I feel like I try to provide positive reinforcement to my teenage daughter every day, there was nothing from the day I could think of to particularly note. So as I sat on the couch next to her watching NCIS, I concluded my challenge.
9:07pm, I acknowledged to Olivia that I understood Senioritis had set in early, but reminded her how proud I was for all she’s accomplished so far. I told her I realized she was under a tremendous amount of college-planning stress but that I had faith in her.
And with a sigh I moved one more hair tie to my right wrist. While I fell short of my seven-compliment goal, it felt good to spend the day looking for opportunities to say sincerely nice things to others and watch their positive responses. If you decide to engage in a challenge of your own, I recommend the tightest hair ties you can handle as the little bit of discomfort is a fantastic reminder to get those ties moving from one wrist to the other.
For more information on the power of compliments and why you should take challenge, visit the Compliment Challenge.
–Jane Olvera Quebe, President