Zariah Swanigan | The Power of a Compliment

For most of middle school and some of high school, Zariah Swanigan felt like an outcast. As a victim of bullying, she knew all too well that people will make assumptions about you before you even open your mouth, which in turn only further contributes to negative labels and poor self-perception. 

But by embracing the mantra of “Don’t Assume. Ask” in her interactions with her peers, Zariah has learned to establish more meaningful connections. She’s also discovered that not all labels are bad. When we offer people a compliment — in effect, a positive label — it dramatically changes their perceptions of themselves.  Zariah asserts that if teens don’t assume and just ask, ultimately we will help each other have greater self-esteem, self-perception, and sense of self-worth.

Zariah Swanigan

When she recorded this talk in 2020, Zariah was a high school senior. She was co-vice president of her school’s Tea and Poetry club and enjoys writing poetry in her free time. Although she is an identical twin, Zariah likes to embrace her unique qualities and is fascinated by different languages, societies, and cultures. She plans to attend college as a double-major in Criminology and Musical Theatre.