As human beings, we increasingly need a compliment. Yet we get and give them less and less. This is not because we like others less, but because we have become worse at recognizing and giving compliments. Normally, March 1 is the day of compliments, but chances are you missed it completely. Three experts explain why it's important that we learn how to give compliments.

Compliments bring more happiness

Good Mental Health1Sociology professor Beate Volker says that a well-chosen compliment can have all kinds of health benefits. You achieve two fundamental needs with it: connection with others and self-esteem.

When you get a compliment, your brain makes just a little extra dopamine. That is a substance that makes you feel happy. Moreover, it ensures that you get a better self-image. Japanese research has shown that a compliment helps improve your social skills.
Yet compliments not only help the recipient, but also the giver. According to social psychologist Michiel Hobbelt, this is because giving a compliment creates a better relationship with the other person. When you do something for someone else, it releases more serotonin and oxytocin. Both substances also provide you with a feeling of happiness.

We are worse at giving compliments

However, a compliment only has positive effects on our mental health when it is made specifically, sincerely, and especially for someone. It is important that you know the other person well and feels what is important to them. Volker indicates that we are less and less good at this.
The biggest culprit of this is our busy schedule. Everyone is all the time busy with work, achievements, and trying to create the perfect picture. We are therefore so busy with ourselves that it is a lot more difficult to get to know others better and therefore also to give appropriate compliments.
Hobbit indicates that we still have social contact with others, but that this often happens through social media. That is more superficial and an online compliment also works less well than the one you give or receive face-to-face.

But looking for more appreciation

Good Mental Health2Valuation expert Hans Poortvliet tells us that social media shows us that we are increasingly looking for appreciation. People put everything online with the hope that it will generate appreciation, but instead, you only get likes. That does not affect our mental health.

That doesn't mean we don't get compliments anymore. You often hear “What a nice pair of pants!” or “Your hair looks great today!”, but those are compliments you could give to anyone else. They lack something personal, something that provides more connection.
If you were to say to a person “I love talking to you because I gain so much more insight into my personal life.” then that is already a much better compliment. You are more involved with the other person and show that you appreciate their presence.

What does a good compliment look like?

A good compliment meets the following requirements. Try it yourself!

  • It is specific to the recipient
  • It's sincere
  • You say something about the behavior of the other
  • And let us know how that behavior affects you


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