Living in a world where ‘next top models’ seem to be all around you would probably think that girls get more and more competitive. But instead they compliment each other daily with sentences like “I really like your shirt. Where did you get it?“ or “You look really pretty today“. Why is that?
It seems to be a real trend among females these days to pay attention to every detail of each others outfits, carefully picking out the special parts and pointing them out.
No matter if it is earrings, a shirt, shoes, hair bands, nail polish, a scarf or make up – girls openly compliment each other on everything.
Even total strangers standing in a queue in the supermarket or sitting next to each other on a train would point out what’s pretty about the other one.
But why do women do that lately?
Reasons for compliments
Cultural critic, Mel Campbell, says that compliments are “transactions in an economy of goodwill. Just as people earn money, they earn goodwill by complimenting other people“.
That means that women complimenting each other re-enforces harmonious relationships and also creates a basis for working together.
Campbell quotes a Kansas State University research which proved what everyone has long suspected: compliments boost female self-esteem.
“Much more than what we would expect for one compliment”, researcher Courtney Fea comments on the results of the study.
Therefore it seems that by handing out compliments about the other girl’s appearance (and hoping to get one in return) women try to make each other feel good.
In accordance with what has been said above, Monica Strobel, author of the book The Compliment Quotient, thinks that compliments are “relationship building, attitude adjusting, success boosting tools”.
But while women hand out compliments about each others outfits like candy, it seems to me that they still hold back with compliments about each others work.
Strobel believes that complimenting a co-worker means “momentarily letting your gripes fade to the background“.
With all the fighting about jobs, with all the talk about women being the weaker-sex and the ‘glass ceiling’ still out there, honest praise among female co-workers still is rare.
However, it might be a good idea to change that attitude quickly as Strobel points out that “criticizing reinforces incompetence whereas compliments help reinforce a positive self-image and create a encouraging place from which to move forward“.
Why complimenting is a fabulous idea
Strobel summarises that “a simple compliment embodies and transmits many fundamental qualities, including generosity, gratitude, appreciation, esteem, hope and more, wrapped up in an all-in-one, pay-it-forward comment“.
However, Life Coach Alvin Soon points out that compliments can only be credible if they are specific (singling out one particular feature) and backed-up (I like it, because…).
Even though women feel more comfortable complimenting on rather superficial features, it is a first friendly step towards establishing strong, harmonious teams in the future where everyone is genuinely appreciated.
So, don’t be “afraid of looking silly or coming across as “sucking up”, as Strobel puts it, when offering someone a compliment.
You might be surprised about the effects a genuine compliment can have – on others and on yourself.