March 1: World Compliment Day. Bigger Deal Than We May Think.

Madelaine Weiss
3 min readMar 1, 2024

Table of Contents

Why Should We Give Compliments?

A compliment is: “an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration.” Compliments are free, easy to receive and give, and come with many benefits to both receivers and givers.

One study, conducted by social psychologist Vanessa Bohns at Cornell, found that both giver and receiver just plain felt better after a few kind words like, “I like your shirt.”

Metanoia Wellness offered up these 5 scientifically backed benefits:

  1. Receiving compliments lights up reward circuits in your brain. Studies show that getting a compliment, therefore, feels just as good as getting money, only it’s free.
  2. People learn and perform better after receiving compliments. Other studies found that compliments triggered learning circuits too. Motivation was increased and learning was easier, so participants did better on learning new tasks. A study at a large tech company found that although monetary rewards increased performance, words of praise for good work increased performance even more.
  3. Giving compliments helps you practice optimism. Compliment givers are noticing good in the world, making them more optimistic. Studies show that a more optimistic brain is associated with better mood, immune function, and longevity.
  4. Compliments are best when they’re genuine and specific. The suggestion here is that fake praise can be obvious to the receiver, making the receiver feel worse, inducing negativity for both the giver and receiver. Being specific about something real helps with the authenticity here, helping to grow trust and strengthen social bonds.
  5. People tend to underestimate the positive impact of compliments. Studies show that people generally underestimate the positive impact of a compliment to themselves and others. It helps to remember how good it felt when we received one ourselves.

The National Calendar Day people try to remind us to do it — not even just on March 1st. January 24th is National Compliment Day. February 6th is Pay a Compliment Day. Really, what do we need all the Days for? What makes this free and simple good thing so hard?

What Makes It So Hard?

Just last week I heard myself asking two different clients whether certain people who mattered to them even knew they did. With one, when asked what he appreciated about his new love, the description of her positive attributes was breathtaking. That’s when I asked if she even, to which he said no.

This points to a vulnerability similar to what goes along with who says “I love you” first. What if it is not reciprocated? What if it’s annoying?

Studies have shown that participants “‘drastically overestimated how bothered, uncomfortable, and annoyed’ the receiver would feel, and this likely prevents people from giving more compliments.”

Another client flat out said, “I just don’t know how to do it.” Of course, she had done it before, just not with the person we were discussing. Her incredible awkwardness about going there with this dear person was enough to keep her from doing it at all.

Another scenario comes to mind that happened many years ago. I once asked a family member why no one gave me compliments. I had just moved into a beautiful new home, with a beautiful new baby, was not too shabby in my own right, and yet, nada.

He said, “Well, that would be like telling Larry Bird he shoots good hoops.” There are better and worse ways to spin that. Maybe it’s a show of respect, folks thinking it would be insulting. Or maybe it’s a form of Schadenfreude, as in, really, don’t you think you have enough.

Still, I think there is something to be said for kind words between us. So why not tell the people in our lives how much and what we appreciate about them, and why not every day?

And What About You?

Yes, that’s right, what about how we talk to ourselves? You’ve heard of the inner critic, and I have written much about that. I know, a lot of people think constantly criticizing themselves motivates them to be their best selves. But studies show that a kind word can do just as much to move us along if not a whole lot more.

Practice, practice, practice…see what happens and let us know. And, for help with this or something else, Contact Me at



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Madelaine Weiss

Licensed Psychotherapist, Board Certified Executive, Career, Life Coach. LICSW, MBA, BCC