7 Keys to Compliments That Count

We all have an awkward love hate relationship with compliments. We love to be acknowledged when we do well, have made progress, or even simply for who we are. At the same time it can feel awkward to receive a compliment at times, especially if the compliment seems lacking. Well delivered compliments make us feel good, boost our confidence, and often inspire us to continue to achieve. Poorly delivered compliments often make us feel insecure, singled out, and disbelieving in the person who made the comment in the first place. Not everyone knows how to give a compliment, and even fewer people know how to receive them. It doesn’t have to be that hard to do something that can be so good.

7 Keys to Compliments That Count:
1. Authentic

I can’t stress this enough, people know when you aren’t really telling the truth, are holding back, or actually mean something else.  When I sense an inauthentic compliment my guard immediately goes up and I start to wonder what someone’s angle is. Inauthenticity carries something about it that we almost always recoil from. So just be real, people can tell if you aren’t.

2. Timely

Great compliments come at the right time. When someone does something good, tell them in the moment. If you missed a moment, try to be as specific as you can about what it was that impressed you. Sometimes we hesitate to give a compliment. This can happen for various appropriate reasons, but it can also reveal our own jealousy or judgmental attitudes. If you are struggling with those mindsets, find someone to help you get over them. Being jealous and judgmental will hold you back in life and will cut you off from relationships you need to move ahead.

3. Well Worded

Good job! and Awesome! Are pretty generic compliments. A well worded compliment communicates thoughtfulness and appreciation. Take some time to think about what you want to say, especially in written form. People appreciate it if you use language well, so take time to make sure what you write or say carries the right weight based on the words you choose to use. I received a thank you card several years ago from someone who penned a well worded thank you and it sits in my desk drawer to this day because they communicated appreciation so well that those words still move me. Words carry a unique ability to touch our lives, use them wisely.

4. Honest

Compliments that count are honest, you don’t have to tell someone they did a great job when they didn’t, and they really don’t need to be led to believe that. Instead compliment their passion, their courage, their knowledge about the content, just find something about their effort that is good and positive and be honest in telling them about how it inspired you. Honest compliments that build us up are worth a thousand times more than dishonest compliments that only serve to puff us up.

5. Personal

Share how they have impacted you personally. Words like “I was inspired!” or “You really made me think.” help people know that you took their efforts seriously and that they somehow impacted your life. Look them in the eye, be willing to show emotion, and connect with them in a real and powerful way.

6. Specific

Generic compliments for specific efforts are almost insulting. When someone has accomplished a long term, hard fought goal, a simple “Good job!” Doesn’t cut it. You need to mention the accomplishment. “Wow! You scored 3 goals! I can’t believe it!” Or “You know, I wasn’t sure you could make that deal go through, but you did a great job with that contract.” offer specificity that lets people know you were paying attention and that you really do appreciate what they have achieved. Specific compliments acknowledge the specific achievement, while generic compliments could apply to just about anything.

7. Directional

I can remember a time when I had a really bad baseball game. The reason it was bad was because I didn’t hit the ball, made some errors in the field, and had a bad attitude about it. Several people, with great intentions, falsely told me that I did a good job, but the one person that helped me the most was my mom who told me we could go to the batting cages to get some more practice in. She did it in a loving and a positive way that let me know she believed in me and that is what mattered the most. I didn’t need to be told I did a good job, because I didn’t. I needed someone to believe in me and help set me on a new course.

Compliments are powerful and we need to give good ones more often. When we build someone else up it also builds us up. Using words that tear people down instead of building them up is a sign of weakness, not strength. Compliments can build confidence, inspire further action, and help people feel a sense of reward for the effort they put into their success. Who in your share of influence could use some encouragement? How could you compliment them today?

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