The Art of Giving Compliments
How great is it to receive a compliment? It’s safe to say we all appreciate and enjoy being acknowledged and given recognition for something we’ve accomplished; no matter how minor it is. Hearing that we look good, did good, smell good, whatever – is like getting a big pat on the back, which has a way of validating and rewarding us for doing something positive. Compliments just feel good and have a way of bringing out the best in us.
When is the last time someone handed you a compliment, or better yet, when is the last time you gave one? Unfortunately, like so many other social graces, we’re losing the art of complimenting. Is it simply an outcome of society losing its connectedness due to computers and texting, which put distance between us? Possibly, but we don’t have to settle for this sad, isolating reality no matter what the reason. As part of our personal evolution – in an attempt to improve our image and status – we should resurrect this great humanitarian gesture by sharing our positive feelings with someone when we notice something favorable about them.
Aside from that warm fuzzy feeling, what value do compliments have? We know they make people feel proud, boost their self-esteem and motivate them to do their best, but we also know a compliment’s impact tends to go much deeper than that. Giving someone a message of approval, especially if it’s someone you know: a partner, co-worker, family member, friend or neighbor – strengthens the relationship. The feeling of acceptance can have a profound affect in many ways. It’s an honor to know someone sees the good in you, and being told has a way of opening doors, improving communication and strengthening bonds.
I realize giving someone a compliment, especially to another guy, can be very awkward and uncomfortable. It has a way of bring out our insecurities, but why? I spoke with several men about this issue and have concluded that men typically don’t have the confidence in giving a compliment for fear of sounding insincere; in addition to seeming opportunistic, weak or manipulative. I understand, but I assure you, if you learn some basic skills and put them to practice, you’ll overcome the hurdles preventing you from connecting with others in this way. It worked for me and it can work for you.
Is there a complement you’ll never forget because it was so special it made you feel like a million bucks? I don’t care what it was or when it was – it’s the feeling I want you to get in touch with. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could feel like that more often, or be responsible for making others feel that good about themselves? Well, it’s not really all that difficult, especially once you get into the groove of things.
Let’s take a look at some simple tips and strategies on how to give a compliment; while allowing that great feeling to be your catalyst.
- In order to give a genuine compliment, you need to be observant. That simply means you have to be present enough to see, hear, feel or taste what’s going on. I know it’s not always easy for men to tune into things, especially compared to women who seem to have built-in radar, but paying attention is critical in knowing what to compliment. Assuming you noticed your girlfriend’s new form-fitting jeans, the great wax job on your neighbor’s car, or the incredible meal your mother-in-law cooked… simply tell them what you’ve noticed. “You look amazing in those jeans.” Your car looks better than I’ve ever seen it!” “Dinner was delicious. I especially liked the steak – thank you.” It’s really as simple as tactfully saying what’s on your mind in the form of praise at the time you notice.
- Compliments should be spontaneous, so they seem genuine and not premeditated. Be specific about what you’re complementing instead of generalizing – it will add to your sincerity. “Your dress is beautiful and really shows off your tiny waist.” would mean more to her than, “You look nice.” And most importantly, make sure you mean what you say, since a phony compliment usually doesn’t go unnoticed and is very embarrassing for all. Nothing’s worse than an insincere compliment that’s given for selfish, self-serving reasons. People can see through that type of deception.
- I know telling people what you think is not always easy to do. However, as with most things, practice makes perfect, and giving compliments is no different. You may have an easier time sharpening your skills if you practice on people you don’t know. The cashier at the grocery store, the clerk at the gas station, your waitress or anyone you casually interact with during your day is a safe target. “I like your boots.” “You have such a pretty smile.” “You’re a great waitress. I appreciate the good service you gave.” Simple, yet meaningful words to let someone know you notice their efforts go a long way. Compliments don’t have to be earth moving or lengthy – just honest words that give them a thumbs up. Take the opportunity to give as many compliments as you can, and you’ll soon be ready to compliment the best of them… including your mother-in-law!
You now have the general idea of how to give a compliment, but do you know how to receive one?
- The most polite and mannerly way to accept a compliment is by smiling and saying thank you. If you’d like to say more, such as “Thank you; it’s nice of you to notice.” you can. However, just remember those two little words – thank you – are sufficient and safe.
- Never dispute a compliment by disagreeing with the person. That’s insulting because you’re not only refusing their gift, but you’re also telling them they have poor judgment. Many people do this because they get embarrassed, or don’t want to seem conceited or vain. Let it go! Learn to get comfortable with praise… I’m sure you’re worthy of it.
- There’s only one thing worse than disputing a compliment, and that’s joining in on it. No need to agree with the person giving you the compliment, or outshine their words by using bigger and better ones. “Great job on the XYZ account? Are you kidding? I did a fabulous job!” Tooting your own horn makes people want to take their compliment back, so try to keep your enthusiasm under control.
Compliments are beneficial for the giver and receiver alike; making everyone feel happy. Seeing someone respond to that pat on the back is so rewarding. Knowing you did something nice for someone usually makes you feel as good as they do. Being able to compliment others is a sign of security and strength, and a definite mark of good character. If you lack this skill, it’s never too late to develop it. Make your world a better place by connecting with others through sharing your appreciation of their accomplishments. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how much more enjoyable life will be.
by Aaron Marino