Every one of us has an amazing power that we seldom use. With this power, we can make another person instantly feel better, put a smile on their face and a skip in their step. In some cases, we can even give another person an emotional high that will last all day long. Of course, with any great power comes responsibility; in this case, the responsibility is using the power itself every chance we get. This power is the art of praise and compliment. The words praise and compliment are actually synonyms for expressing approval or admiration.
However, praise is more associated with accomplishment or achievement — you cannot really praise someone for their nice shoes. Whether you use praise or compliments, the effect is same: a warm feeling followed by a smile for both the giver and receiver. The benefits of praising are similar to expressing gratitude. Besides good feelings all around, employees or team members who are praised are more productive and satisfied in their jobs and children who are praised are more confident and tend to focus on praise-worthy behavior. Giving sincere praise and honest compliments will help you earn the respect and trust of others. Throughout this course I have mentioned the importance of giving praise and compliments, but not necessarily how to best do it.
Here are tips on the art of praising and complimenting.
- Follow a compliment with a question. Did you ever notice how difficult it is for some people to accept compliments? For example, “Nice car, Bob!” may be deflected with, “It looks better than it runs.” Now, instead of good feelings, there are just feelings of awkwardness and regret. Prevent this deflection by following your compliment with a question such as, “Nice car, Bob! Where did you get it?” Now by answering your question Bob is “forced” to accept the compliment.
- Compliment the person, not the object. “Nice car, Bob!” is really complimenting the car, or perhaps the company that designed and built the car. For this compliment to have maximum effectiveness, compliment Bob on his decision to buy the car, his taste in cars, how great he looks in the car, or anything that has to do with Bob, not just the car.
- Praise in public, carefully. The old saying goes, “praise in public, punish or criticize in private.” Generally, this is not bad advice unless your praise isolates others who feel they are deserving of praise. Public praise can cause friction so just be careful that the praising in public is appropriate for the situation.
- Compliment often. Compliments are free so why not give them away any chance you get? Of course, too much of anything is not a good thing (that is why it is too much and not just much), usually common sense will tell you if you are overdoing it. Do not feel that by holding back you are making the compliments and praise you do give more meaningful. While there may be some truth to this, many frequent compliments are worth much more than one big one.
- Be sincere. Insincere compliments or praise are called flattery and are generally detested by those who can tell the difference. If you do not truly mean it, don’t say it.
- Be appropriate. It is probably not a good idea for a male to compliment a female employee on the firmness of her backside. Again we must call on our common sense. Praising and complimenting others is an art that has marvelous effects on the attitude of those receiving the praise. It is something we all are capable of, but do not do it often enough.
Take a few steps closer to success and practice your complimenting skills while making other people happy in the process. You can’t go wrong!