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What you can do daily to boost your loved ones' productivity
According to a Harvard Business School study, praise from friends, family and colleagues creates "best-self activation." Here's what that means and how the study found that a bit of praise every now and then boosts productivity. - photo by Payton Davis
Achieving impressive things takes knowledge, drive and perseverance, but "best-self activation" might trump all of those, according to a Harvard Business School working paper.

According to Quartz, best-self activation helps people perform at their best and is the byproduct of praise from friends, family and colleagues. In one study dealing with praise and productivity, 123 participants received notes from their partners before preparation for a mock interview.

The messages reminded participants of their strongest attributes, Quartz reported.

"You are unafraid to be intelligent. So many people, particularly women, are afraid to be the smartest person in the room. You are a wonderful role model for all bright, quick and articulate women in the world, showing that it is more than OK to be clever and to allow people to see that you are smart. I can think of a time you won the argument with class, and I found it inspirational," one note read, according to Quartz.

The study's participants who collected notes from others fared better than those told to write their own positive notes, according to Quartz, and other studies feature similar findings about best-self activation.

According to New York magazine, HBS researchers recruited 75 people to take on tasks supposed to "measure their problem-solving skills" in a separate experiment. Half of the participants received no guidance beforehand. The researchers told the other half to reach out to friends, family and colleagues prior to completing the tasks.

They asked their loved ones for reminders of times they'd seen the participants at their best, and it worked, New York magazine reported.

"I remember the time when you stayed up all night to make sure that I knew I was worth more than what my high school bullies would believe," New York magazine stated one note read. "Your compassion and words allowed me to feel loved in a world that is often cruel."

According to New York magazine, 51 percent of participants who read the notes before figured out one of the tasks compared to 19 percent of those who didn't.

These findings fall in line with The British Psychological Society's mention of the saying "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

The society's report said the biggest benefit of giving praise is that it "costs nothing and produces significant benefits which support continued levels of motivation within organizations."

But too much praise promotes narcissism, according to Scientific American.

Still, Scientific American did report the tie between narcissism and praise dealt with the children-parent relationship and stated that giving compliments when children earned them proved most effective.

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