Undercover Kindness Mission: Positively Complimentary

“Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.” – Everybody is Free to Wear Sunscreen, Baz Luhrman

Imagine you are sitting down with your boss for a performance review. They describe one of your positive thing you have brought to the job and then point out one area of your work that isn’t up to standard. Which piece of feedback will you be focusing on for the rest of the day? If you’re like most people, it will be the negative one.

On average, we speak about 16000 words every day. But when it comes to remembering words that were spoken to us (or that we speak to ourselves), we tend to remember the negative, critical words so much more easily than positive, kind ones. Why is this? Apparently its all down to the ‘negativity bias’ of the brain. Our minds are wired to hold onto negative information so if we want to maintain a positive outlook we need at least double the amount of positive words to counteract any negative ones. *

With that in mind, today’s undercover kindness mission** was to spread positive words all over the city of Sydney, whether spoken, written with pens and paper or scrawled in chalk on the pavement. Here’s a little bit of what happened:

Welcome to Sydney (cruise ship, Circular Quay)

The only person that can make you happy is YOU (The Rocks)

 Thankyou! Best coffee in Sydney (Bacino, North Sydney – for Sydneysiders that love their coffee and haven’t been here, do yourself a kindness and get the cappuccino with real chocolate on top! Pure deliciousness.)

I hope your day was full of positive thoughts and kind words. And if it wasn’t, you know what your mission is for tomorrow…

*If you would like to read more about the power of positive words, check this out: http://www.peggybert.com/2010/09/30/positive-and-negative-words/

**There is less than three months left before the Year of Kindness comes to an end (eek), and I am planning some of the biggest kindness missions yet. If you are in Sydney and would like to get involved in a group undercover kindness mission, or have any ideas/suggestions, check out the YOK Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Kindness-Army-aka-Year-of-Kindness/272045112862710.

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. themolesworthdiarist
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 00:16:04

    Very cute!


  2. Roberta
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 04:16:37

    Making kindness my mission..You go girl! (:


  3. thesilentsoul
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 05:24:54

    I love this idea! I might try it myself 🙂


  4. 12 Novels in 12 Months
    Feb 08, 2012 @ 11:33:00

    This seemed to have been written for me. I had my monthly meeting at work today and I was ripped to shreds regarding my job performance over the past couple weeks. It was a bitter pill to swallow and definitely not what I wanted to hear but it was the kick in the pants I needed.

    It’s true that we need double the positive to erase the negative but at the same time, negative criticisms can have positive outcomes. It’s all about perspective and willingness to change. And a huge slice of humble pie.


    • happydancecat
      Feb 16, 2012 @ 21:02:34

      Funny how these “coincidences” happen. I’m sorry to hear you had such a tough experience at work. Constructive feedback on what we need to improve is definitely necessary for us to grow, and our own willingness to accept such feedback is a big part of it, but I also think how it is delivered is hugely important. There are so many ways to help people to see themselves clearly and “ripping them to shreds” is perhaps not the most helpful of them! But good for you for being able to take it on board and make it an opportunity. 🙂


      • 12 Novels in 12 Months
        Feb 17, 2012 @ 01:02:17

        You’re so right. Perspective and empathy are so important whenever you’re dealing with people, regardless of the situation. Things have definitely improved and work life’s back on track. No one likes hearing about their shortcomings and very few people truly look forward pointing out other peoples’ problems. It’s always a delicate, difficult conversation.

  5. Eric Winger
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 06:39:02

    I’ve even heard that ratios of 9:1 & 11:1 compliments:criticisms are necessary in order for us to keep the bad feedback in check. For awhile, it seemed to me that I was a hopeless victim to whatever people said to me.

    However, there is one thing I’ve learned to do that helps me to control what kind of criticism I receive.

    That is to mind my own words as I’m speaking to someone else or giving someone feedback. By focusing on the specific action that could use some improvement and less on the person, it becomes an impersonal critique and more motivational for that person to want to make a change.

    The irony is that the more I used that kind of language, the more likely people have been to use kinder and more motivational words when speaking to me because most people tend to mimic the language they hear. And that’s the kind of language which makes me happy. 🙂

    Just a thought.

    You’re doing good things, keep up the positive messages!



    • happydancecat
      Feb 16, 2012 @ 21:06:12

      So very true, Eric. As I said above even the most seemingly negative of feedback can actually be hugely positive and beneficial if delivered in an appropriate and supportive way. And you can certainly influence the energy and tone of those around you by altering your own ways of speaking and being. It’s once again all about giving what you would like to receive!

      Thanks Eric, you too! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: