The Power of a Compliment

In researching social networking apps for my blog, I decided to update my LinkedIn profile. One of the features of LinkedIn allows you to write recommendations for the people you are connected to. I did that yesterday afternooon for a few of the people in my network.

What astonished me was reading what they wound up writing about me. It is both a humbling and an empowering experience to read what someone else thinks of you.

Earlier this year, I read the book, How Full is Your Bucket by Tom Rath. The book opens with the story of a research project regarding a POW camp that was able to make prisoners lose the will to live without ever touching them. I leave it to you to read the book for the details, but essentially, the study impacted the researcher to the point that he became very depressed. How could the tactics of a POW camp in a war long past continue their destruction by impacting the person researching it? After that project, Donald O. Clifton devoted his life's work to studying positive, or strengths, psychology -- work that led the American Psychological Association to cite him as both the Father of Strengths Psychology and the Grandfather of Positive Psychology.

In the book, the metaphor of the dipper and the bucket is a great framework for looking at what adds to us and what drains us. I think one of the most powerful "bucket adds" is a well-stated compliment.

Though "you look nice today" is always a lift, the more powerful gift is when someone states something that reveals what you didn't know before. In writing this post, I began thinking about the compliments (some of them long past) that continue to produce positive energy for me when I remember them:

"You are all the good stuff in my life." --My husband.

"You are pretty
because you smile." --My daughter. (at age 6)

"You are really good at
what you do." --My boss.

"You are a catalytic person that I like to be
around." --A guru friend.

"You are a very elegant woman."
--Elsa-the-Poet (remember that Elsa sees me with poet's eyes. Smile.)

I once read something TD Jakes wrote (I wish I could remember where to find it to quote it accurately, but here is the paraphrase.) Essentially, the thought was that the ability to see people's unique strengths also sees their unique faults. He goes on to say that many people with that gift are only using it in the negative.

Each of us has the great power within us to create this positive "filling of buckets". The assignment? From the checkout clerk to your spouse to your connections on LinkedIn, pick up a ladle and start filling!

1 comment

NancyJ said...

VERY COOL, says the kindergarten teacher in me! And all the Linkedin recommendation material is true, you know (AND your hair looks good and your teeth are white!)!

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Maira Gall