The Power of Compliments

Last year, a co-worker sent me an email with the subject line: This is you!


I opened it to read:




I was pleased, surprised and humbled. The most striking thing about the gesture was it was unprompted—just an out of the blue nicety. Since then, it has sat on my desktop amongst other thumbnails with the reminder title, “How Others See Me”. It’s a reminder that this attitude is what I should be putting forth. No exceptions. My-coworker didn’t just pay me a compliment. She inadvertently challenged me to be my best self each and every day.


There is no shortage of studies on the uses and benefits of compliments. The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition at the University of Minnesota lists a few groundbreaking ones here.


Compliments have their functions in a spectrum of situations, from massaging constructive criticism to promoting positive actions from others. In a networking setting, they are excellent conversation sparkers. Because bullet points are a busy reader’s best friends, some tips:



Compliments can leave indelible impressions on those you are just meeting or have unexpectedly positive outcomes on those you’ve known for ages. They also reflect a great deal about the giver. You can tell a lot about a person’s confidence level, interests, values, relational abilities, trustworthiness, humility, and communication style by the compliments they dispense and how they deliver them. All it takes is a little mindfulness. There isn’t a better tool in a networker’s arsenal.



More about Shannon:

Shannon Stump is saying goodbye to working adulthood and returning to the hallowed halls of academe as a full-time student in Iowa State University’s Journalism and Mass Communication Master’s program this Fall.

When she’s not switching careers, she DIY’s. She prefers “That Nice Homemade Look” to “Pinterest Fail”. She attended a math and science high school despite her mediocrity at both and loves exploring the arts and entertainment offerings of Des Moines. The greatest compliment she ever received was winning the Fun Chatterbox Award at summer camp.

She and her husband, Matt, live in Ankeny.