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Day 21: Ask Strangers for Compliments

Dan Ariely, the bestselling author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality, and my professor at graduate school, proposed an interesting experiment for my day 14 Rejection Therapy: give $5 to five randome people.

Now his crazy mind is back at it again. On Day 21, he proposed that I ask for compliments from strangers and see if I get rejected. The theory is that people are reluctant to ask/give compliments to others. However, when it happens, everyone is happy afterward. Is he correct on both of those two hypotheses?

The first one was one of the hardest rejection attempts I have ever done. It was more awkward than asking my homecoming date 12 years ago. However, as I kept at it, I started enjoying it much more, and in the end, I loved it. The compliments to me, though solicited, were from strangers. They indeed made me feel very happy and confident.

Learning: 1. People are more than willing to say nice things about others when given the opportunity. As my rejection therapy suggests, it could be harder to reject giving compliments than to agree to it. 2. Compliments, in a way, is like sex for married couples. In Paula Szuchman’s book It’s Not You, It’s the Dishes, everyone thinks that the more sex the merrier for married couples, and they are completely free to do it. However they somehow set up emotional barriers so they don’t get to enjoy it as much as we want. I feel the same way about compliments. We should all try this – asking/giving compliments to strangers or loved ones. I promise you will feel happier afterward.

  • beautybrite

    What a great experiment! Thanks for sharing this! It’s nice to see people taking the time to give you compliments!

  • blb1313

    Another great experiment! I don’t know if it’s because you approached people on their right side, but the reaction was similar on most of them; they would get a little smile, and then look left before issuing their compliments. The only one who didn’t was the fellow who gave a rapid and excellent compliment, but looked uncomfortable when you asked if he was shopping for his family. I guess you are no longer considering them ‘failures’ when your requests are granted.
    Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  • jc

    I have a compliment for you – you are a very funny guy!
    Keep it up!

  • AL

    Hi jia, you are very brave, fun and friendly person! Thank you for your videos and what you did, they are really inspiring.