To give and receive genuine professional compliments is rewarding. Communicating your appreciation for good work is important when operating as part of a team. A compliment tells your colleagues that you are engaged and paying attention to their contributions to the team, and gives you credibility if you need to ask for a change in the future. Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman writing for the Harvard Business Review explain the research of Emily Heaphy and Marcial Losada, finding that the most productive teams compliment each other 5.6 times for every negative comment they provide.
It’s worth considering too how we receive compliments. When compliments or gratitude come your way, be sure to gracefully accept, give others credit, and then immediately engage further. Whether the compliment is coming from a customer, colleague, or boss, now is a good time to engage. Thank them for their input, tell them how much it means to you, and then tell them that even more important is knowing that they tell you when they are not pleased or if things are not going well. If it sounds simple it is because it is. When someone reaches out to share their thoughts or feelings with you, they are demonstrating confidence in your ability and it’s the perfect time to reinforce their trust in your judgement. Reminding them that you need their input when the going gets tough will make it easier for them to tell you what you need to know when you need it most. Acting on that input with experience and effectiveness will further build the relationship through trust and by demonstrating competency and ultimately stack the deck for mutual success.