ATTENTIONAL LEADERSHIP™

The Secret Power of a Compliment


During most of my corporate career, I can remember only a few incidents that somebody, be it my boss, a colleague, a partner or a client gave me an authentic compliment. Most of the people took my work and my presence for granted. While I really practice giving sincere compliments all the time. It was the most sincere attention I could give to another human being and it even let me feel better. So what is the secret power of a compliment? And how can we use it more effectively in our business networking and in interaction with other people?

An interesting observation I have notice during my career is that great leaders compliment people. Compliment is definitely a part of what I called: ‘The Attention Leadership”. A great example is the way leaders motivate people through expressing a belief in what they could be or do. Through helping to better the people around him/her, the leader becomes stronger.

Compliment defined in the dictionary as “a formal act or expression of courtesy or respect”. When you show respect for someone by expressing admiration of his/her actions, talents, abilities, acts of kindness, jobs well done, etc. you may have more influence on them than you know. A great compliment is about acknowledging the positives about another person. Acknowledgment is powerful because so often, good things go unacknowledged.  We can become experts at pointing out what’s wrong with something or someone while taking for granted what’s right.

Never underestimate the power of praise in networking and building relationship with other people. The assurance that someone receives when you notice them, may help that person to make the best possible use of his or her talents and abilities…their lives.

The ability to give another person an authentic and sincere compliment can revolutionize how people feel about you because when a compliment is given well, it touches the core of who that person is.  It affirms the best aspects of who they are and what they are made of.  A powerful compliment is a gift of authentic attention you give to others – a way of expressing gratitude and good will in the world.

Remember: The power of a compliment is not related to it size. Giving a positive accolade can do wonders for someone and these powerful expressions can come in the smallest of packages.

Here are four simple guidelines for using the real and authentic power of a compliment:

1. Be specific.

If you want to have your compliment effective and memorable – make it specific.  Don’t be vague when you give a compliment.  First, notice what it is the reason you want to give the compliment, and then articulate it to the other person.

2. Acknowledge their character.

Compliments should point to a person’s character traits. You need to compliment the person who they had to be to achieve the accomplishment.  This will give the compliment it’s authenticity and stay in the their person mind. This is one of the main reason why compliment is such a powerful tool to build relationships. For example, “It took a lot of courage for you to speak up like that” or “You are so creative.  I love the way you did your presentation.”

3. Be Authentic.

A compliment is not to be confused with flattery. The one rule about a compliment is it must be honest and sincere. Non-authentic compliments are useless and even harmful. If you don’t really mean the compliment, don’t give it.
Is it difficult for you to find something to give a compliment for? Remember: everyone has some character strength or gift worthy of acknowledgment.  Make a habit of finding the good in others.  Your authentic compliment could be a very unique gift to the other person, if you are the only person who shared it with him.

4. Express your appreciation.

You might assume that the people in your life know you appreciate them, but don’t leave them wondering.  Say so.

I do not know of anyone who does not like to hear an expression of approval about a job well done. This form of praise can be an admiring comment or part of a thank you.

Be direct with your compliment, it is powerful. When complimenting someone about something they did that benefitted you, be direct in your praise. Compliment is that like a permanent glue to bond people together. And it is for free.

One tip when you are the person who receive a compliment: simply say “thank you” or “how nice of you to say that”. Nothing further is necessary.

The truth is that compliments are not given often enough. The power of a compliment is only limited by its lack of use. Maybe some people just do not understand the positive effect of a few kind words.

So speak well…give great and authentic compliments…use carefully and genuinely the power of a compliment to connect you to other people

Question: How many times do you give compliments to others each week? What would it take to increase that? Share your answer on ,, or LinkedIn


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