The Power of Praise: Our In-built Emotional Currency

Four friends sitting together

You don’t need the latest gadget or wellness retreat to feel good. The ultimate mood-booster is completely free. 

Giving praise and getting compliments are fast and easy ways to feel good and boost your mental health. Research consistently shows that messages of praise can have powerful effects: boosting self-esteem, facilitating bonding and building trust between people.

What stops us from praising each other?

Despite how good compliments make us feel, we often hesitate when it comes to complimenting our friends. Even though 90% of us believe we should compliment each other more, there is a block in the process of turning kind thoughts into kind words. In one experiment, just 50% of people who wrote down a compliment for a friend ended up sharing it.

So, what’s stopping us? Psychologist Vanessa Bohns says that self-doubt interferes with compliment-giving. We overthink our delivery, instead of focusing on how it will make the other person feel. This means we end up either talking ourselves out of giving the compliment or miss the moment to share it.

Bohns says we also underestimate how much a compliment can improve someone’s day because we don’t realise our impact. Often, we think complimenting or praising someone will make them feel uncomfortable, but we couldn’t be more wrong. 

The emotional bank transfer

Our brain and body are physically affected by compliments. The areas of your brain which light up when you receive one are the same as those triggered by financial rewards. Compliments also release dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for motivation, focus and positivity. When we experience this rush of positive emotion, it encourages us to repeat our behaviour, which is why positive affirmations are often associated with learning and motivation.

Do good, feel good

Mark Twain once said “I can live for two months on a good compliment”. He’s right: it’s not just the recipient who benefits from positive affirmations. Compliments boost everyone.

For a start, making someone else feel good, feels good. Beyond that, giving compliments or praise can help us grow personally – debunking our belief that it will be awkward or cringy. Over time, we become more confident in our communication skills and our ability to boost those around us.
Compliments can even alter our mindset long-term. Our brains are prewired to identify negativity or danger, an evolutionary strategy designed to protect us. In modern society, this skewed perspective can have a harmful effect on our mental health and relationships. The process of delivering a compliment, requires us to shift our focus to the good in a situation or person, breaking a negative pattern of thinking.

How can Morale help us?

Making new habits stick can be tough, especially when the day to day gets in the way. That’s where we can help. Inspired by the power of positivity, Morale encourages you to share anonymous positive affirmations, called “Boosts”, with your nearest and dearest. The anonymity of Morale also helps you overcome any barriers, enabling you to freely express yourself.

So, now it’s up to you. Are you ready to supercharge your life with positivity?

The compliments toolkit

  1. Focus on someone’s personality or character when giving compliments or messages of praise, as these are far more meaningful
  2. Identify the special things you genuinely appreciate in someone for the maximum positive effect 
  3. Be specific to show you’re really paying attention to your network
  4. One for the receiver: accept the compliment graciously, instead of batting it off (as so many of us do) 
  5. Let Morale help you : you can download the app for free on Google Play and Apple’s App Store

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