LIFE

Compliments Are Good For Your Health, But Not If They're Fake

So stop sucking up to your boss.

20/06/2017 7:33 AM AEST | Updated 20/06/2017 7:39 AM AEST

Whether you're admiring your partner's cooking skills or commending a co-worker on a job well done, compliments might be more important than you think.

In fact, research shows receiving a compliment can enhance performance, social interaction, positivity in relationships and increase general happiness. Not bad for something that's completely free and takes literally seconds to do.

So just how important are compliments to our everyday lives?

"Compliments can lift moods, improve engagement with tasks, enhance learning and increase persistence," Professor Nick Haslam, School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne told HuffPost Australia.

"There is some research evidence that people who receive compliments on their performance on a task from someone else tend to improve on it more than people who receive no compliments or who evaluate themselves. And you don't need a research study to know that receiving a compliment can boost our mood."

There's also good reason to spread the love, so to speak, with Haslam noting those who give compliments tend to benefit as well.

"Giving compliments is arguably better than receiving them, just as giving gifts or contributing to charity has benefits to the giver," he says.

"By giving compliments you can make interactions more enjoyable, bring out reciprocating warmth from others, and create a favourable impression in their eyes."

Faux compliments are likely to have the opposite effect as genuine ones.

The catch? Compliments have to be genuine to work. Or, at the very least, you have to be so convincing the other person doesn't suspect you're telling porky pies.

"Faux compliments are likely to have the opposite effect as genuine ones. People who receive them will often feel they are insincere and not well-intentioned, and that undermines any positive effects they might feel about being praised," Haslam says.

"Even so, what matters is not whether the compliment is actually faux or genuine but whether the recipient believes it is. It's quite possible for someone to take a sarcastic compliment as genuine, or to disbelieve and dismiss a heart-felt compliment."

Tom Merton
Research has shown receiving genuine, personalised compliments can help boost your performance and learning ability.

Now one for the introverts. What if you have trouble accepting praise?

"People with low self-esteem often do this," Haslam notes. "Paradoxically when they receive compliments, they sometimes feel less positive about themselves and the person who complimented them.

"There are a few reasons for this. People with a negative self-image may fail to accept messages that conflict with that negative image. They may doubt the sincerity or judgment of the person making the compliment.

"They may worry that they can't live up to the high expectations of the complimenter, or receiving a positive evaluation may just remind people of how they fall short in other ways."

Does this sound like you? These tips might help.

Tom Merton
Feeling bashful? You're not alone.

In short, Haslam says there's a lot of good that can come out of voicing our appreciation for others, both in terms of giving and receiving praise.

"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", he says.

"Similarly, receiving compliments can help build a sense of being valued and liked. Almost all of us have a strong need to belong and to be recognised and appreciated. Compliments help to meet those needs and to enhance our relationships."

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