Well Done Rare Medium

It is pretty widely acknowledged that people who work for non-profits do so for intangible benefits like a feeling of contributing to the betterment of society and self-actualization rather than rewarding levels of remuneration.

Of all the benefits non-profit workers feel they get from the work they do, compliments are probably not one of them. A story in Harvard Business Review noted that two research efforts found that while people felt that compliments were beneficial and should be given more often, many people refrained from expressing compliments to others.

…we consistently found that people underestimated how good their compliment would make the recipient feel. Compliment-givers tend to believe the other person won’t enjoy their interaction as much as they actually do; in fact, they often believe that their exchange will probably make the person a little uncomfortable. Yet, consistently, receiving a compliment brightens people’s day much more than anticipated, leaving them feeling better, and less uncomfortable, than givers expect.


In fact, only 50% of people in one experiment who wrote down a compliment for a friend actually sent the compliment along when given the chance, even though they’d already done the hardest part — coming up with something nice and thoughtful to say. That is, despite the widely shared desire to give more compliments, when faced with the decision people still often forgo low-cost opportunities to make others feel appreciated and valued.

Among the concerns people had were that their delivery of the compliment would be awkward and that repeatedly giving compliments on consecutive days would diminish the value of the praise and be perceived as increasingly insincere.

The authors conclude by noting that gratitude and praise is especially important now more than ever and advocate for creating a culture of gratitude:

As Aron Ain, CEO of Ultimate Kronos Group has said, “Gratitude is not about a one-time holiday party, day off, or spot bonus…It is about creating a culture of gratitude.”

(Title of this post is based on a recollection of a clue in a Hardy Boys book from ~40 years ago where the antagonist writes a note congratulating a fortune teller.)

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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