Welcome to HuffPost Canada’s guide to helping you pick up an easy, everyday ritual that can make your life a bit better, in a small but significant way.
Canadians are stressed out, anxious, and are feeling disconnected from each other. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we’ll share a tiny tip to help you feel good. We’ve got your back.
Today’s habit: Compliment others.
What it is: My husband does a lot for our family. He cooks dinner almost every night for us and our toddler, he walks the dog every morning and night, he cleans, does laundry, goes grocery shopping, washes the dishes, and he even buys me gift certificates to the spa so I can get a facial. He’s amazing, and I don’t compliment him enough.
I’m not saying I think I should compliment him for everything he does; I shouldn’t have to thank someone for doing their share of the housework or reading our kid a bedtime story; that’s called being a partner and parent. But I know running a household and being a parent can be thankless jobs, and I appreciate it when he compliments me when I make a delicious meal for our family, or for when I put a bit of effort into how I look.
But, just as it’s important to receive compliments, handing out compliments can benefit us, too.
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How it can help:
People love being complimented; we can’t help it! Whether it be for wearing something cute, doing a great job at work, being a good friend, organizing and cooking a good meal, or completing a gruelling workout, we love being appreciated because it makes us feel valued and seen.
Research shows that people who get compliments are more likely to perform better at a given task (ie. If your boss tells you that you did a great job working on that Power Point presentation, you’re going to do even better on the next project), and they can increase satisfaction in heterosexual relationships (there’s no research on the effects of compliments in queer relationships).
And we don’t need studies to tell us that receiving a compliment can boost our mood. “Hey, Chloe! Your outfit is on point today!” Boom. Mood boosted.
Aside from knowing that the person you’re complimenting is going to feel good, there are other reasons to dole out compliments left and right.
“By giving compliments you can make interactions more enjoyable, bring out reciprocating warmth from others, and create a favourable impression in their eyes,” Professor Nick Haslam, School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, previously told HuffPost Australia.
Here are three reasons why you should give out more compliments:
1. Kindness makes us happy
Research has shown that being kind to others makes us happier and improves psychological wellbeing because, as studies show, the receiver’s reaction gives us positive reinforcement and provides us with psychological needs, such as competence.
Whenever I know I’m making someone feel good, either by telling them they’re amazing human beings, or they made yummy pancakes, I immediately feel good, too. And that mood seems to last the whole day, spilling over into other parts of my life.
2. Giving compliments can make us feel closer to the recipients
Complimenting others makes us feel more connected because it helps reinforce positive social behaviour. For example, when I tell my husband he’s an incredible cook, our relationship is strengthened because he feels appreciated, and values the fact that I took the time to notice his hard work.
“Making a point of bringing more appreciation and gratitude into the world by giving compliments can help to create positive relationships and a feeling of social connection,” Haslam said.
3. It makes us enjoy work more
There are many factors that go into what makes us satisfied with our jobs, but I think most of us can agree that whenever we get a work-related compliment, we feel more satisfied with our jobs.
I am trying to make it a habit to compliment the people I work with; because I know it will make them feel valued, and when I know the people I work with are happy at their job, I am happier at my job. Who doesn’t love working with people who love their work?
WATCH: It pays to be kind to others at work. Story continues below.
How to get started: You don’t need to give an over-the-top compliment for it to be effective; the most important thing is that it be genuine, notes Psychology Today. The more thought you put into the compliment, the better.
“Compliments work only if they are sincere reflections of what we think and if they are given freely and not coerced,” says Psychology Today. “Compliments backfire if they are not genuine. And faux flattery is usually highly transparent. A false compliment makes the speaker untrustworthy; it raises suspicions about motives. And that can undermine a whole relationship.”
The website also says that compliments should be as specific as possible. For example, “I’m really impressed with the way you answered that question. It shows that you put a lot of thought into it,” or “I’m so proud of you for getting through that one-hour workout. You didn’t give up and tried your best.”
Where you can do it: Do so where appropriate. For example, don’t tell your coworker you like their outfit during a meeting; instead, do so when you’re mingling over the morning coffee. Make sure the setting is comfortable for both you and the receiver; and when the receiver isn’t busy or otherwise distracted.
And that’s your habit of the day.
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