Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Giving Praise Is a Proven Way to Increase Your Happiness


Are you a praise giver or taker? How you respond may offer a clue into your level of happiness at work.

Happiness researcher Shawn Achor has made a name for himself studying the many facets of happiness. His research has uncovered a startling connection between praise and happiness: the more praise you give, the happier you feel. That’s right: as nice as it feels to receive a compliment, your happiness gets an even bigger boost when you praise others.

Achor, who was a keynote speaker at Globoforce’s Work Human 2016 conference, offered several insights into the ways that people can increase the overall positive vibe at work. Achor’s research has found that people who provide “social support” (which includes praising the actions of others) were 10 times more likely to be productive than peers who didn’t praise as often. Moreover, these “praise givers” were also more likely to be promoted. We need to not only learn how to accept praise, but we need to excel at giving it.

(Click here for ideas on how to graciously accept a compliment.)

The act of offering praise is one way that people can build improved social connections. At Work Human Achor told us, “The greatest predictor of long-term happiness is social connection.” And I don’t think he was referring to how many followers you have on Instagram. The type of “connection” that Achor means is the genuine interaction you have with fellow human beings. “The breath, depth and meaning of our social relationships determines our long term happiness,” Achor shared with his audience.

During the Q&A portion of Achor’s session, a participant stood up and said, “What I love about praise, is that it’s free.” So true. It costs nothing but a bit of your time. Here are tips for making your praise helpful to others:

Make it sincere. Studies show that empty praise is more damaging than no praise at all, so find something you can genuinely talk about.

Praise specific observations. Research on goal attainment shows that people respond best to praise that is directed towards the mastery of a skill, so point out what someone is doing right, rather than a general, “Good job!”

Say “Thank you” along with your praise if it’s appropriate. Here are four ways to make sure your “thank you” hits the right notes.

Find the right time. Leave enough time to talk with the person. Nobody wants to feel like you did a “drive by” appreciation.

Pay attention to personalities. As country music singer Kellie Pickler likes to say, “Everybody likes their coffee different.” Give some thought to your colleague’s personality before you offer praise. For example, will she like to have a crowd witness her kudos? Or will she prefer a low-key, handwritten note?

Offering praise makes people feel good. It makes you perform better at work. It also builds a stronger connection between you and your colleagues. And all of that adds up to more happiness at work.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.