The Power of a Compliment

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Summary:

It's easy to get so caught up in your busy-dizzy life that you neglect to compliment others on their efforts and accomplishments. The intriguing thing is what a powerful impact a compliment can have on both the giver and the recipient. It was at 35,000 feet that I came to realize exactly how powerful.

Near the end of the flight, I started speculating that most passengers, myself included, are wrapped up in our thoughts and oblivious to the service provided unless something goes wrong. As a result, flight attendants probably get very few compliments.

Being ever the experimenter, I decided to find out. I approached a flight attendant and asked her how often anyone ever complimented her for her service. She evaded my question, and said: "I'm a professional. I know my job. I don't need to hear compliments from passengers to know I'm doing a good job."

The tone of her voice strongly suggested that words of appreciation were an infrequent occurrence in her profession. I told her that I appreciated her service. I added that given how full the flight was and how little opportunity she had had to relax, I particular enjoyed the sense of humor she had exhibited in reassuring some stressed passengers.

I then asked how often she'd received this sort of compliment or any other from a passenger. Well, she told me, there are 139 passengers on this flight, so that makes 1 out of 139. Then, my psychology background rising to the surface, I asked, "And how did it make you feel?"

"You made my day," she said. She was beaming. She may not have needed a compliment to know she was doing a good job, but she certainly didn't seem to mind hearing one. And though I had intended simply to make her feel good, what surprised me was how good her reaction made me feel. Yet it was so easy. Just a simple expression of appreciation.

It may sound as if I did something for her that day, but the truth is, she did even more for me in reminding me how good a kind word can feel.

User Comments

8 comments
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

It really is true, it really pays to let someone know if they are doing a good job. It can make late nights and stressful deadlines more bearable, it can encourage someone to keep working hard, and it is always appreciated. Of course, the fact that it also feels good to give complements is a just a perk- but a great perk.

October 28, 2010 - 12:15am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

Thanks, Devon. You're right, it's a kindness to let people know their efforts are noticed and appreciated, especially when they're contending with (as you point out) late nights and stressful deadlines -- as is so often the case in this business. ~Naomi

October 28, 2010 - 12:22am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

You're a ray of sunshine in my day Mrs. Karten.

October 29, 2010 - 12:21am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

Thanks, good buddy. And in telling me that, you've made MY day. :-) ~Naomi

October 29, 2010 - 12:22am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

Ah, so true! A compliment has to be sincere, too, or it's just empty words. In order to provide a sincere compliment, one has to truly notice those around us. I've always complimented people just naturally: the salesperson's earrings, a co-worker's document. I complimented the guy cleaning the metal doors of the office elevator the other night; he was really making them gleam! I like to work in a clean, nice-looking environment and truly appreciate the efforts of those who provide this for us.

November 2, 2010 - 11:20pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

Rose, you are a great role model, not just in offering compliments, but in offering them to people who might least expect to hear them -- from you or anyone else. You're so right -- opportunities to give compliments are everywhere. You just have to look (and you don't have to look far!). ~Naomi

November 2, 2010 - 11:23pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

So true! Especially when the majority of feedback we can hear is negative - those that are unhappy take the time to complain and spread negative feedback. If we each took just a couple extra minutes a day to pay a compliment we can start a positive chain reaction. Like Rose said though, it must be genuine. It just means we need to really live in the moment and observe the things around us that we can appreciate. <br><br>And thank you, Naomi, for reminding us to take the time to be present and aware, and giving compliments freely for others' benefits as well as our own.

November 23, 2010 - 11:01pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

Thanks so much, Karie. I agree with you about starting a positive chain reaction. People who have been complimented are more likely to compliment others.<br><br>It's not necessarily something we can remember to do at all times and you're right that it should be genuine. But I believe it can become a mindset, a way of being in this world. So when we're in the supermarket, and the line is moving slowly but the overworked checkout clerk is doing the best she can, instead of grumbling, we can tell her "You sure are busy today. Thanks for putting up with all of us." In doing that, we'll make her day.<br><br>She'll appreciate us for noticing, and she'll be much more likely to say something nice to someone else. (We also might, in the process, be serving as a role model for those in line after us.) ~Naomi

November 23, 2010 - 11:10pm

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