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  • Writer's pictureChuck Cusumano

The Power of Compliments

By Jillian Broaddus and Chuck Cusumano

We’ve talked about some simple solutions – from gratitude to communication tips to recognizing strengths – to boost morale, increase engagement, and retain top talent. However, today, we have a new one: it’s cheaper than bonuses and easier than an employee appreciation event. In fact, it’s as simple as a single sentence… Give a compliment!

When’s the last time you complimented a coworker? When’s the last time you received a compliment at work? Was it “powerful”? How’d you feel?

If you’re like the majority of Americans in the workplace, you’re probably not giving or receiving compliments nearly often enough. In fact, 90% of people report that they believe we should compliment each other more often, and scientific research agrees, noting that we’re evolutionarily wired to focus on the negative.

However, a compliment can be the most powerful tool at a manager’s disposal! One study conducted by Intel and Duke University found that verbal praise was more effective at increasing productivity than cash bonuses. The recipient of the compliment receives a literal brain boost in the same areas triggered by monetary gifts – which results in a heightened mood and increased gratitude for long after the words have vaporized!

Author Michelle Rozen, PhD, says, “With so much stress, burnout, and mental exhaustion today, we can create real change when we realize the power of compliments.”

So, how can you give a good compliment that has a lasting, positive impact on those around you? Harvard Business Review reveals the four key attributes that make a powerful compliment (and they also have suggestions for how to receive a compliment, if you’re uncomfortable doing so – read here!):

  • Make it Authentic: Why are you choosing to recognize this person? Take time to think through your reasoning so that your compliment comes off authentic and personal.

  • Make it Specific: What did you observe that prompted your compliment? Specificity is key when it comes to compliments, praise, or congratulations!

  • Identify the Process: What went on behind the scenes to warrant the compliment? Showing you’ve observed this can make all the difference – and add to the authenticity and specificity as previously mentioned!

  • Mention the Impact: While the process is important, the end result matters, too. Mention the impact in the hopes of repeating the process and outcome in the future!

Go out and compliment and let us know how it goes over by emailing us at!

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