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Good Housekeeping
Charlene J. Owen, Contributor
November 20, 2012

Word Power: Compliments May Increase a Person’s Efficiency at Work

A few kind words may go a long way. By Charlene J. Owen

Compliments make us feel good and get us motivated, but how exactly do words like “you’re awesome” or “keep up the good work” give you that extra boost of inspiration? reports that it’s not just all about good vibes--it’s about brain power, too.

A Japanese research team led by National Institute for Physiological Sciences Professor Norihiro Sadato, Graduate University for Advanced Studies graduate student Sho Sugawara, Nagoya Institute of Technology Tenure-Track Associate Professor Satoshi Tanaka, and Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology Associate Professor Katsumi Watanabe found that a certain part of the brain called the striatum activates when a person is given compliments or incentives. With this information, they worked with 48 adults to see how their capacity would change when given a morale boost.  

The participants were taught a finger exercise which entailed pressing specific keys on a keyboard in a certain sequence in less than 30 seconds. They were then divided into three groups: one group had an evaluator who continually gave compliments; the next had to watch while the others were given praises; while the last had to evaluate their own performance. The task was repeated the following day.

The results showed that the participants who were complimented worked better than the other groups, proving that a few words of approval may increase the level of performance of any individual.

Whether you’re a boss or a team member, it’s important to know that what you say to your colleague may affect them not only on an emotional level but also on a professional level. So why not be generous with words of kindness and praise? It doesn’t cost much, and the returns are potentially big.

(Photo by Sam Howzit via Flickr Creative Commons)

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