A compliment is defined as “a polite expression of praise or admiration.” Something like “Nice handwriting” or “Cute haircut” would fall under this category. But in this post #MeToo era, Millennial women have taken on a new, highly exaggerated as well as highly energized way of psyching each other up when speaking to each other.
This form of communication was identified by the cultural surveyors over at Man Repeller as gassing. Writer Emma Bracy defined it as, “Hyping. Blatantly bigging up. Telling someone, unprompted, that you appreciated their hustle up those stairs, or that outfit, or the way their edges are laid. Sending text messages out of the blue that say things like, ‘In case no one told you today, you’re the sh-t. And that ass? Amazing .’ ” If you’re looking for more examples just watch any episode of Broad City.
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It’s basically taking the animated “You go girl!” of the 90s and boosting it up by about 60 amps. After all, we didn’t start answering every affirmative question with a declaration of “Yasssss Queen” until the last few years. Fun fact: the elongated “Yasssss” actually came from Bali culture as a form of encouragement and then infiltrated into our world of social media when an over-exuberant fan of Lady Gaga’s (is there any other kind?) met her and, as most of us can relate, could only simply say a long “Yasssss” in a perfect combination of praise, excitement and just bewildered awe.
Gassing at work
Now, much of this type of speech is reserved for the comment section of Instagram or when greeting someone at brunch if they are pulling off a hat but should women, especially Millennial and Gen Z women, be using this heightened way of talking in the workplace?
Bevin Prince and Brittney Levine, the hosts and founders of the Be My Neighbor podcast, which is aimed at Millennial women, told Ladders they think gassing is absolutely acceptable in the workplace. “In our opinion, we’re elated that the “gassing” subject is being brought up and even ‘a thing.’ There is a definitely an “overdoing” it type of support, but if women genuinely mean it and respond to their female friends/perfect female strangers pictures, posts, achievements, etc. with genuine support, we feel that we’re all the better for it. It takes a lot for another woman to voice her support, purely because she might have her own insecurities.”
Elizabeth Tuke (or Tuke as she is fondly known), the CEO and founder of Tuke Consulting (and well-known p.r. genius whose clients include Malone Souliers and LBV and she was Meghan Markle’s publicist before she became a Princess) told Ladders, “Any type of unsolicited ego boost is a means of positive reinforcement and I am a big advocate of it. I have experienced both reserved and conservative colleagues, who withhold encouragement or sharing their excitement for others’ success. Hyping up, pumping up or boosting the spirit of your peers, colleagues or employees simply infuses energy into the workplace – just as it does on a playing field filled with athletes.”
Good as gold
But why is this dramatic way of speaking so essential right now? First of all, let’s look at the psychology of compliments. Unfortunately, even the most confident of humans needs a compliment every once in a while. As Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” A 2012 study actually found that a compliment can help improve performance with a task at the same equivalency as giving someone cash to do the same task. Professor Norihiro Sadato, the study lead and professor at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan said of the research, “To the brain, receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as being rewarded money. We’ve been able to find scientific proof that a person performs better when they receive a social reward after completing an exercise. Complimenting someone could become an easy and effective strategy to use in the classroom and during rehabilitation.”
So this over-emphasized use of laudation could be very essential in the workplace. Plus, if work is particularly stressful or, you know, you exist in the world, gassing can be a strategy for survival. “Over-the-top support for one another is something that women have used historically in difficult times,” Diane Barth, LCSW, told Well and Good. “It’s one way of counteracting cultural and personal denigration of women t— coming up with superlatives for who women are and what we do.” Plus, with Instagram likes possibly becoming an endangered species soon, we are going to need a real-life equivalency as soon as possible.
Sara Levine, the Editor in Chief of Betches Media, a millennial media platform, told Ladders, “I think “gassing” or building other women up is only beneficial in the workplace. Complimenting another woman on a job well done is not going to diminish your own career prospects — success is not a zero-sum game. On the contrary, if phrased appropriately for the workplace, gassing can help motivate. And in a society where women are constantly being put down, by men and other women, who better than our peers to help build us up?”
Blake noted, “To us, where we’re faced with being told “NO” on a daily basis, whether it’s in an audition room or board room, having each other as support systems have benefited us greatly. I tell Bevin when she looks beautiful and if I think she looks crazy (hard to do), and we can laugh and joke about it all. We have gotten to the point where we trust one another and know that even if we’re talking about our personal achievements it’s not considered boasting because the support is met on the other side. ”
Perhaps if Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scotts had just spoken to each other in this manner they could have avoided so many conflicts (and a lot of bloodshed.) Mary could have said something about Elizabeth’s amazing ability to pull off the impossible to pull off Geisha meets Bozo the Clown aesthetic.
However, jokes aside, the gassing does need to be authentic Prince and Blake noted. Now there has been criticism that women focus too much on complimenting each other’s appearances can have negative effects and though gassing may focus on an aesthetic perhaps at first it goes deeper than that. It is just good old-fashion cheerleading with accentuation. It is as the kids say “extra.”
Kim Palmer, CEO of women’s wellness app, Clementine, told EveryWoman, ‘Women really struggle to do their own PR, especially in the workplace, because they don’t like to ‘show off.’ So to have a cheerleader do that for you is amazing.”
So find a female colleague tell her she is a genius and should rule the world and call it day.
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