If an upcoming work presentation or meeting has got you nibbling-on-your-nails-level nervous, you may want to ask your friends to remind you just how amazing you are.
It turns out we are more likely to succeed when other people remind us of our accomplishments, talents and capabilities rather than relying on our own self-reflection, according to October 2015 research published by Harvard Business School. The working paper findings are preliminary, but they're still pretty interesting.
The researchers looked at the effects of "best-self activation" — when people perform at their personal best — using three experiments. The first two involved about 200 people who either completed a fake job interview or solved a puzzle. Participants who were given a note of praise from a friend before the interview or puzzle scored noticeably higher than participants who received a neutral note or were told to write a glowing report about themselves. What's more, after analyzing saliva samples from the puzzle solvers, the researchers also found that the compliments from friends boosted the participants' moods and resistance to disease.
The third experiment consisted of nearly 400 real-life employees and employers. The employees who received regular compliments from their bosses showed fewer signs of stress and were less likely to quit.
Flattery May Get You Somewhere After All
"I think it is true that people tend to greatly value positive feedback from their social network," says Janet Scarborough Civitelli, PhD, vocational psychologist and author of Help Me Find A Career: Strategies To Choose Work You Will Love. "So, for example, if you are preparing for a job interview, ask your most supportive friends, family and colleagues to give you examples of times they observed you being particularly effective and accomplished. This is likely to strengthen your view of yourself as a person who will make measurable contributions to the employing organization."
If your friends, family and go-to colleagues are MIA when you're in need of a motivational boost, Dr. Scarborough Civitelli suggests seeking out a compliment or two from acquaintances — even strangers. Why not? The pros do it all the time.
"This is why public speakers re-read their most glowing evaluations from the past to calm their nerves before they go on stage," she explains. "And this is why authors revisit their most favorable book reviews to recover from a harsh critique from a reader or a rejection from a publisher."
We hear the fishing at Compliment Lake is lovely this time of year. Who's with us?