I’ve never been a big fan of rodents, but when they come bearing compliments, that’s another story.
When I opened my email last week I was greeted with a delightful surprise: a message from Laura Numeroff, creator of the beloved “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” books.
You remember them: the New York Times-bestselling children’s series that highlight what happens when you graciously offer an animal what it wants – whether it’s feeding a moose a muffin or serving a pig a pancake. Spoiler alert: They keep on asking for more. It may start with a pastry, but it escalates – first to a glass of milk, then a straw, then a napkin, and on and on.
Numeroff had just stumbled upon “The Totally Sweet ‘90s” — one of the books I wrote with Gael Fashingbauer Cooper highlighting our favorite pop culture memories, which included the iconic “If You Give…” books and Laura’s opportunistic li’l rodent — and she wanted to pass along her thanks.
It didn’t matter that our book hit store shelves eight and a half years ago. Her kind words resonated as strongly if we’d just sold our first copy.
It was yet another reminder of just how powerful gratitude can be — a brief, authentic note or positive word can make a decidedly un-mouse-like impact. Research agrees: Gratitude has been proven to make people feel valued. In fact, kind words are processed by the brain so strongly, they’re perceived as positively as a financial reward. Positive feedback can even help mitigate stress in the workplace, especially if you can create a long-term culture of gratitude.
Passing along a thank-you or compliment is free, and it takes just a second. Laura Numeroff and her books have been the subject of gallons and gallons of ink over the years (with ultra-high-profile fans like Oprah, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama), and yet she still took the time to jot an email to express her gratitude, then post on Facebook about how honored she was to be featured in our book. It meant a lot.
In Numeroff’s stories, the mouse and its friends are given an inch, and they ask for a mile. But a compliment works differently. It fills your bucket and inspires you to pay it forward.
What happens if you give a colleague – or even a complete stranger – a compliment?
Odds are they’ll give one to someone else, too.