Can giving a compliment impact my confidence?

IF YOU NEED CONFIDENCE, one of the quickest ways to achieve it is to look for the good in others and compliment them. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? How could that make us more confident?

Neuroscience tells us we mirror one another. If you still confidence in others by paying them a compliment, they intuitively know you are self-assured enough to bestow a positive remark. They will likely reciprocate positivity to you. Then you will feel confident!

Compliments also remove negative judgments. Socially anxious people tend to be judgmental. Many times, this is a learned behavior from childhood messages of guilt or being made to feel “not good enough.” It is born of a fear of being judged. Parents who judge their children negatively can instill a lack of confidence. If you had that kind of childhood, there is hope.

Paying someone a sincere compliment or just an exchange of a simple smile releases dopamine and endorphins to both the giver and receiver. It releases the trust hormone oxytocin and builds confidence. It is a primitive brain response. In studies of chimpanzees, when they show their teeth in a smiling way, they are saying, “See my teeth. I trust you will not hit me and take away my ability to eat. We can be friendly, work, and live together and help one another survive.” It’s true. Modern man is not so different.

Confident people (not cocky or narcissistic) are what psychologists like Daniel Goleman and Dr. Travis Bradberry are naming “Emotionally Intelligent.” It has nothing to do with academic intelligence. Richard Branson, Albert Einstein, and countless others are a testimony to this. They are not braggarts. They are just confident. They embrace their strengths and laugh at their weaknesses. Branson is so dyslexic he couldn’t finish high school. Einstein flunked math but gave us the theory of relativity.

Paying compliments is like that theory. To your actions, there is an equal reaction. A smile is a universal symbol of safety.

I’m not saying to give or take fake compliments. That’s how con-men work. That term comes from the phrase “confidence man.” They flatter to get what they want. However, most people who have emotional intelligence know that confidence tempered with humility is a balanced way to be successful in life.

The famous country comedian and cancer philanthropist Sarah Cannon, who we all know as Minnie Pearl, said it best when asked about her success: “If you love people, they will love you back.”

Last but not least, in many research studies, when men were asked what one trait they found sexiest in women, it was confidence.

You’ve heard it before. Just be yourself. Allow others to be themselves, compliment them, and watch your confidence rise.


article by MARY JOYE, LMHC, PA

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Joye, LMHC, PA, is a licensed mental health counselor with offices in Lakeland and Winter Haven. She holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee. For more information, visit

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