Whether it's receiving thanks for a job well done or being told your outfit looks hot, there's no doubt about it being praised rocks. But that isn't where the fun ends.
When we give someone a compliment, the parts of our brain usually associated with "selfish" pleasures (chocolate and sex, anyone?) light up. So not only can praise brighten up someone's day in this sometimes thankless world, but you can also boost your own feel-good levels by dishing it out. It's a win-win situation!
"Receiving praise feels fantastic and is very motivating," says psychologist and author Meredith Fuller (meredithfuller.com.au)."Giving praise where praise is due makes us feels good because we're increasing someone else's sense of self." People who praise others are usually emotionally intelligent, confident, observant and like making others feel good about themselves.
According to clinical psychologist Catherine Boland (catherineboland.com), praise is an effective way to give feedback about others' achievements. "All relationships thrive on knowing that others notice us and care about us. This improves feelings of warmth and respect," she says.
If praise is so beneficial for everyone involved, why don't we do it more often? There are usually a number of reasons and lack of self-esteem can be one of them.
People lacking in self-confidence often find it difficult to give praise because they feel others don't value their opinions and might reject their offering. Not everyone has the gift of articulating their feelings and may hold back from giving praise because they're worried they might be branded a suck-up.
Fuller says that competitiveness can also inhibit people from handing it out. "If someone views you as a threat, they won't praise you because they don't want to give you the confidence boost that they'd prefer for themselves," she explains.
Similarly, people who bear grudges also have trouble with the p-word. But not commenting on your mate's edgy new chop, just because she didn't notice your colour change two months ago, is not only petty, but it's holding you back from getting that giver's high.
While praise can generate a feeling similar to that of an orgasm (okay, maybe not quite that good), it's important not to rely on it to feel great about yourself. Being self-motivated and knowing that you're doing a good job regardless of whether someone acknowledges you for it means kind words will just be the icing on the cake. "If we only see ourselves reflected through the mirror of others' praise, that puts us on shaky ground," says Fuller.
Never give out praise that puts yourself down (like "I wish my skin was as glowing and flawless as yours") as it implies you're fishing for compliments. Keep the praise focused solely on the recipient for it to be genuinely received.
The art of giving
To some, praising others comes naturally but for a lot of people, it's easier said than done. Fuller encourages focusing the praise on a specific achievement, activity or attribute of the person. "Show that you've observed their actions and appreciate them. Don't feel pressure to use flowery language if you're not a woman of many words. A simple 'you did a great job' is perfectly fine," she encourages.
If talking to someone face-to-face scares you, send them a quick email or write a note. Whatever you do, just make sure the praise is genuine most people can smell BS a mile off.
We've all got a friend who's dedicated their life to destroying any efforts of praise, one compliment at a time. The second that someone comments on how nice their hair looks, they kill the moment by replying, "Ugh, no, it's greasy and disgusting". While it might be a natural instinct to reject a compliment, it's actually sending a negative message to the person who is kindly giving you the praise. "Although it's difficult for some, try to just bask in it and enjoy it. Look the person in the eye and say thank you it's as simple as that," says Fuller.