8 great ways to give a compliment
This week, on 1 March, it’s World Compliment Day, a day for “consciously reflecting on what someone in your life does well and letting that person know” – with words, not gifts.
“A sincere and personal compliment costs nothing, but the impact on the recipient is huge,” says Hans Poortvliet, the driving force behind the annual event. “Nothing makes people happier. So why not do it a little bit more?”
Here’s our tips on how to show your appreciation:
1. Pay attention
In order to give praise, you need to recognize the opportunities to offer it. Observe what’s going on around you more keenly. Be fully present when interacting with others and you’ll easily find lots of things to compliment them on.
2. Commend the small stuff
What may seem trivial to you might mean a lot to somebody else. Like somebody’s sense of style? Let them know! Impressed with someone’s handwriting? Tell them. While small things make excellent fodder for compliments, make sure they’re connected to a worthwhile trait or talent. Complimenting someone’s style says they have good taste. Taking note of someone’s neat handwriting is really complimenting them on their discipline. For this reason, “I like the way you eat peas,” or, “You pet your cat really nicely,” will win you puzzled looks rather than smiles.
3. Vocalise your thoughts
Could it be that the reason we’re a bit stingy with our compliments is not that we don’t think nice thoughts or notice things we admire, but that we don’t make the leap to putting those thoughts into words? We let the thought slip away unspoken. This often happens in long-term. So if your partner gets dressed up for a night out, let them know how nice they look, instead of making them ask, “Do I look ok?
4. Be specific
The more specific you are, the more sincere you’ll seem – it shows you’re really paying attention. And if you’re complimenting someone in order to encourage a positive change, then a specific compliment is likely to encourage the recipient to continue the positive behavior as it helps them identify what they’re doing right.
In fact, studies have shown, children whose parents who gave them a lot of general praise, “Clever girl!” or, “Good boy!” tend to feel lost in adulthood, as they haven’t learned to hone in on their talents and abilities.
5. Be sincere
Insincere praise – may be you’re trying to win someone over or sell them something – can erode a person’s trust in you and de-value your future compliments. No matter what your motivation, you have to truly admire the thing you praise for it to come off sincerely. Also, compliments that aren’t connected to true merit lead the recipient to believe that positive attention is outside of their control and not contingent on good behavior or success. This saps motivation to challenge themselves and is especially important to keep in mind when you’re complimenting children.
6. Beware the backhanded compliment
An insult disguised as a compliment is often used as a way of expressing disdain without completely owning up to it. “You’re cleverer than you look.”
Resist the urge to add any modifiers to the original compliment. If someone did a good job cleaning the car, say “The car is sparkling clean!” and nothing more.
7. Praise in public
A compliment made in front of others has extra weight because it shows the recipient that you’re proud to be associated with them and you’re not afraid to reveal your admiration to others.
8. Relay other’s praise
When compliments happen outside of the praised person’s earshot – why not relay them back to them later. For example, “I was talking to Jane the other day and she was going on about how much help you gave them moving house and how they couldn’t have done it without you.”
Don’t delay! If you notice something to compliment someone about, do it as soon as you can. If you wait too long, you’ll probably forget.
Now take the Candis Compliment Challenge!
Over this next week, we challenge you to compliment a different person each day!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
A loved one/Friend. Strengthen the bonds between you and your loved ones by complimenting them.
A colleague. Be a morale booster at your office by seeking opportunities to commend your fellow employees.
A business you frequent. Most businesses just hear complaints all day. Few people take the time to compliment them on good service or creating a quality product.
A young person. Young people need nurturing and one of the best ways to do that is through a thoughtful compliment from an older person. It will mean a lot to them.
A stranger. Make a random stranger’s day by offering a sincere compliment. It doesn’t have to be anything big. A simple, “I like your scarf,” will do.