Has this ever happened to you? You have been putting in a lot of effort on a project whether at home or work. You work away and feel some personal satisfaction. You might even say to yourself, “I think I am making a difference.” With this belief, you keep persisting and continue making the ongoing effort to do the tasks at hand. You are not sure if anyone else is actually noticing or paying attention to your contribution. Then out of the blue, without any solicitation on your part, you hear this: “I really appreciate all your hard work and effort”.
How does that make you feel? Pretty good, right? How do you use this information? Does it encourage you to continue or even up your current efforts? Do you find yourself thinking, “Hey, maybe I really am making a difference that counts!” What do you do with this renewed enthusiasm? Perhaps, it even becomes a pivotal influence in your decision to make future contributions.
So now instead of feeling hesitant to give because what difference does it make anyway – you feel re-invigorated to give more! It really is quite amazing how even just one positive comment can ‘feed’ the soul!
So what stops others from sharing what is in them all along – positive, encouraging comments?
Here are some possible reasons to leave positive comments unsaid::
- Holding the belief that unsolicited feedback, even if it is positive, is unappreciated.
- It is only my opinion and it can be risky to share as others who overhear it may disagree with it.
- Others might accuse me cynically of being a ‘suck up’. This may seem immature and yet I still remember that type of teasing.
- The receiver of my feedback might dismiss or brush off the compliment I am trying to give them and that is awkward.
- Feeling unsure if it would make any difference whether it is said or unsaid.
- It takes some effort to formulate a positive comment and who has the time to do this?
- Most people make sarcastic, off-hand or teasing comments – so I will be going against the ‘norm’ to make a positive comment. After all, hardly anyone says ‘thank you” any more so a positive comment is kinda out there!
So what do all these possible rationales for leaving positive comments unsaid have in common? The focus is mainly on ourselves and our beliefs and feelings. There is little to no consideration for the other person receiving the positive comment. We don’t take into consideration how this could positively affect the receiver of the positive comment. We have already talked ourselves out of doing something kind for someone else in order to protect our own perceived fragility.
Yet, here is the kicker. Positive psychology’s study of happiness has found evidence that when you share your appreciation for another person through positive comments – you, the giver, end up happier! Just as happy and maybe sometimes happier than the person receiving the gift of your positive comment. So in giving – you end up receiving, too!
Here is a challenge . . .
So why not do a little experiment and see what happens? Set a task to make 1-2 positive comments to others each day for the next three weeks. See what difference it makes to them and to yourself. Before you turn off the lights for bed, take a few minutes to reflect on your day and in particular, your positive comment efforts. What did you notice about the receiver of the positive comment? Did he or she or they smile? Say anything in response? How did that make you feel? How did you view yourself after the encounter? Did you think about that encounter a few times during the day or share it with anyone else? If you were the recipient of a positive comment, how did that make you feel?
This research and the accompanying reflections can help you decide the true value of leaving no words unsaid and it just might make you smile a lot more!!!