The Art of Paying Compliments

Over the past few days I have made several tweets about how we can make a difference to others by doing something simple which doesn’t cost us anything.

That set me thinking about how challenging some people can find it to to pay someone a compliment, something which some of us take for granted can be a real challenge for others. I think that’s because these days, it seems more witty and “with-it” to be sarcastic with others rather than to compliment them. It’s also true that in some cases, complimenting someone can actually trigger mistrust, with the other person feeling you are either being rude, or that you want something from them.

The art of giving compliments seems to be a dying one. But here are ways of complimenting a person and sounding sincere.

Be Sincere

The best way to sound sincere is to be sincere. Don’t compliment just for the sake of it, or because you are trying to get something out of the other person.

Be Positive

Sometimes a person could really use a pick-me-up, especially when times are tough. Giving them a sincere compliment can boost their mood and self-esteem. For example, imagine a colleague had to give a presentation, but it didn’t go well. Tell them you admired their ability to stay cool under pressure, or mention something in the presentation that you found really useful.

Be Appreciative

Say please, thank you, and well done more often. This creates a positive atmosphere in which others feel that you think they matter. In this way, when you do give a specific compliment, they will feel it is genuine.

Don’t Just Make It about Appearance

It is easy to compliment someone on their appearance with a quick, “Wow, I love your tie”, or “What a gorgeous scarf, where did you get it?” However, these compliments literally just skim the surface. They can also make a person embarrassed and self-conscious about their appearance, especially if they wonder whether you are sincere or not.

Be Detailed

Being detailed shows you are paying attention to the other person, and also implies sincerity. You could say things like, “Well done on that presentation. The charts were great. I would really love to get a copy of your slides.” Or, “Wow, I really admire what you just did. I’m not sure I would have the nerve in the same situation.”

Think about what They Want to Hear

This does not mean giving compliments for no reason or saying what you think they want to hear, but rather, directing your compliments towards what is most important to them as a person. For example, a fashion model will hear endless compliments about her appearance, but commenting on the great way she has with people or her charity work will touch something closer to her heart. If someone posts a photo of their new car on Facebook, don’t just comment on the gorgeous car, say, “I know how hard you work. You deserve it!”

Now ttry it and and see what a difference it makes to your relationships.


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