Kindness is a powerful form of care, or empathetic response, yet this study found that people often think simple compliments have little value so they tend to refrain from giving them.
Research into what clients want consistently shows that one of their primary desires is to know the lawyer cares about them. When lawyers want to connect with their clients, show they care and have empathy, a little act of kindness is powerful way of doing so.
One of the ten elements of CSI’s Integrative Listening model is care. Caring can be demonstrated with acts of empathy, sympathy, compassion, perspective taking, warmth, normalizing, and taking delight in the client or at least having positive regard for them. Sometimes it seems a simple act of kindness is the most sincere act of caring.
The study found there a several things which can interfere with giving a compliment. They include:
- Underestimating how positively the recipient would feel
- Overestimating how bothered and uncomfortable a recipient might feel
- Compliment-givers own anxiety and concern about competence
Like other research, this study also found that people who give compliments and kindness to others, without any expectations of return, gain a sense of improved well being.
Study and abstract
Why a Simple Act of Kindness Is Not as Simple as It Seems: Underestimating the Positive Impact of Our Compliments on Others
A simple compliment can make someone’s day, start a new friendship, or just make the world a better, kinder place. So, why don’t people give more compliments? Perhaps people misforecast the effect their compliment will have. Five studies explored this possibility. In Studies 1a and 1b, compliment givers underestimated how positively the person receiving their compliment would feel, with consequences for their likelihood of giving a compliment. Compliment givers also overestimated how bothered and uncomfortable the recipient would feel (Study 2)—and did so even in hindsight (Study 3). Compliment givers’ own anxiety and concern about their competence led to their misprediction, whereas third-party forecasters were accurate (Study 4). Finally, despite compliment givers’ anxiety at the prospect of giving compliments across our studies, they felt better after having done so (Study 4). Our studies suggest that people misestimate their compliments’ value to others, and so they refrain from engaging in this prosocial behavior.