Research suggests that we may be holding back from praising our co-workers as much as we should.
The power of a small compliment can be immense, but we’re less forthcoming than we could be because we’re worried about it being perceived as clumsy, patronising or fawning.
Vanessa Bohns, a professor of social psychology at Cornell University, has been doing research on how people give and receive compliments.
‘Across numerous experiments, the researchers found that the participants significantly under-estimated how happy the other person would be to hear the praise, and significantly over-estimated how cringe-worthy they would find the encounter.’
Nicholas Epley, a professor of behavioural science at the University of Chicago, and Xuan Zhao, a psychologist at Stanford University, have found similar dynamics in their research.
They found that worries over whether the compliment was delivered well, or if an individual was offering them too often, were unfounded.
“They just care about how nice or kind the compliment is.”
So next time you feel like praising someone on your team, just do it. Chances are you’re overthinking the process, and underestimating how happy they’ll be to hear it.