2017.01.24 Bring Out the Warm Fuzzies

Say Hello to my Warm Fuzzy. Or rather to my "corporeal representation" of a warm fuzzy - because a real warm fuzzy is a genuine compliment, a "little ball of happiness" to be shared freely. (A version of the fuzzy story can be read by following the "ball of happiness" link.)

For the last 45 years, American Management Association has conducted "Operation Enterprise", a introductory management course for young adults. I was first introduced to this little, hairy fellow at one of these courses - long, long ago on a continent far, far away - by a management consultant from California whose name has been long forgotten.

But the warm fuzzy concept was not forgotten and became part of my interpersonal tool box.

The idea is really simple: If you see something you like, say it.

It is perhaps not as simple as it appears for mainly two reasons:

  1. You fear the recipient will believe you have a hidden agenda.
  2. You don't want to get on the wrong side of some - fuzzy - line of political correctness.

Compliments are positive feedback. You may want to say something nice about your friend's new haircut or cool outfit. Compliments related to personal appearance will, however, easily seem inappropriate if paid to a colleague - not the least if the recipient is of a different gender. But anybody would like to hear that s/he made a good presentation or brought up a good idea for a new product feature - or get noticed for being a good resource for knowledge or help.

Adam Grant has in his book "Give and Take" described how the most successful people are Givers; one of the things they seem to understand is how much small acts of "uplifting" strengthen human connections. The small favors can be to connect people that need to be connected or give credit to people who have helped them. They also remember to say "thank you".

Alexander Kjerulff, who promotes happiness at work all over the world, has described leaving post-it notes with a kind word on colleagues' desks. Nothing is as encouraging as being told how one's actions have positive impact.

I thought about Fuzzy when I was listening to the radio a couple of days ago. Now you can even send an anonymous nice word to people in your network through the app "Brighten". How this came about can be heard following this link to the radio program "Here and Now". A shout-out to Robin Young for promoting warm fuzzies.

The general advice about feedback is "the more specific, the better": "Thank you for always asking me if I want something when you pick up coffee; it makes me feel part of the group", "You really helped me up my efficiency when you taught me those excel macros." How hard can it be to string some positive words together? Often, they are already in our heads but we just don't say them out loud.

I don't know about you, but I much prefer real words to the inevitable "like" on social media. That said, if you didn't know about "Brighten" or Alexander Kjerulf and want to share these sources of positivism with your network, feel free to "like" to your heart's delight.

The best way to get into a good mood is to make somebody else happy. Start giving out Warm Fuzzies today - the world really needs them.