CHALLENGE: Say Nice Things About Your Colleagues This Week. You Won’t Regret It.


Things feeling pretty blah at work? A well-done compliment can do wonders for the moods of your teammates –– and even your own, too.

New Ross research shows that complimenting fellow colleagues has dramatic effects on how they feel about their work and their value.

But before you start gushing over your co-worker’s socks, take note: Random, shallow compliments aren’t the way to go. Instead, the paper written by Michigan Ross Professors Jane Dutton and Julia Lee, and featured in Harvard Business Review, outlines specific ways to make your affirmations meaningful and effective, including:

  1. Create positive first impressions. “Use introductions as a way to positively narrate your colleagues. Be imaginative and share details that highlight the ways in which the person is interesting, and describe them as someone others would want to get to know,” Dutton and Lee write.

  2. Communicate the value that each team member brings to the table. When a new team is brought together, be sure to share each person’s potential contributions to the project and group.

  3. Describe your colleagues positively if they are socially undermined. Take the opportunity to lift up a colleague who is being undermined, whether intentionally or not.

“Not only do we uplift others, but we also lift up our own potential for meaning by positively contributing to others,” Dutton and Lee explain.

So, we’re throwing down a challenge. Can you dedicate yourself to taking a moment every day this week to give a coworker a boost? We think you can.

Give it a try and leave a comment to let us know how they react.

Jane Dutton is the Robert L. Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Business Administration and Psychology at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. She is co-founder of the Center for Positive Organizations at Ross. Julia Lee is an assistant professor of management & organizations.