Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
Yet, many of us struggle with the simple act of appreciating and complimenting the people around us. On a daily basis, many of us feel awkward or uncomfortable with the simple act of giving or receiving compliments with those around us. Greater appreciation leads to improved communication, better relationships, and more fulfillment.
Many people downplay compliments to avoid the appearance of conceit. It’s so common that sociologists have categorized the three responses to a compliment: acceptance, deflection or rejection. Rather than humbly accept or outright reject the kind words, individuals often choose to deflect or dilute the compliment.
The hardest part, of course, is learning exactly what to say. Perhaps the easiest approach is to keep things short and sweet: A smile and a simple “thank you so much” works in most scenarios. Of course, feel free to elaborate, and definitely share the credit with others when it’s due -- but resist the urge to downplay the compliment in any way.
Mike Robbins' book, Focus on the Good Stuff: The Power of Appreciation, teaches people how to utilize the power of appreciation in their relationships, with co-workers, and in their lives. Greater appreciation leads to improved communication, better relationships, and more fulfillment.
The book offers tips for giving great compliments and for the sometimes challenging task of receiving compliments gracefully:
How to give great compliments:
- Be Genuine: Say what you mean, mean what you say, and speak from your heart.
- Make it Personal - You have to know something about the person, what they like, and their personality - it is not a "one-size-fits-all" phenomenon.
- Be Specific: Let people know exactly what they've done or what quality they have that you appreciate and how that action or quality impacts you in a positive way.
How to receive compliments effectively:
- Breathe: Take a moment to pause, breathe, and let in the compliment.
- Say "thank you": Acknowledge the compliment and believe the person is telling you the truth (even if you disagree with their praise).
- Shut Your Mouth: After you say "thank you," there is nothing else you have to say - don't argue with them or throw a phony compliment right back at them (which is what we often do), just accept it and be quiet.
The most important thing to remember is that you should take an active interest in genuinely appreciating other people -- especially in a work environment. Compliment results. Make sure that your firm's recognition and reward programs are in place, functioning, and well utilized. And after any award ceremony, offer your personal compliments as those will have their own effect on employees. When you see happy and content employees in the corridors or at their desks, let them know how good it feels to you. The compliment generates enthusiasm that, in turn, drives productivity. If you can do that, the rest will follow.