At some point we’ve all been frustrated by a colleague or employee struggling at seemingly simple tasks at work. But how many of us have ever considered that a complement might be all they need to improve?
A recent study by Japanese scientists has found that people perform a task better after receiving just a single compliment.
According to the study, “Findings suggest that praise functions as “social reward” that induces the dopamine transmission in the striatum, resulting in an enhancement of the motor skill consolidation.”
Interestingly, the striatum is the same bit of the brain that's activated when cash is given to a person, making compliments like currency in keeping employees on board.
To break it down, the scientists trained 48 adults to push keyboard buttons in a particular pattern as fast as possible.
After this training the participants were divided into three groups according to whether they were complimented for their performance, complemented for another person’s performance, or received no praise at all.
As set out in study’s findings, when participants completed the finger tapping exercise the next day, those people that were complimented on their performance did significantly better than the rest.
In explaining the results, researchers theorize that compliments encourage better “skill consolidation” during sleep.
And while the study doesn't touch on more complicated tasks outside simple motor skills, it certainly gives greater weight to what mum said about ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all’.
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