Delivering a Compliment that Resonates

What are some best practices for what to do and not do when delivering a compliment?

Have you ever received a compliment that didn’t quite sound sincere? Maybe the tone of the person’s voice was off, or the overall compliment was generic. In either case, the words likely didn’t stick with you.  However, a compliment or acknowledge is delivered right – it makes you feel like a million bucks.

There’s nothing wrong with delivering a heartfelt compliment, but it’s more powerful to turn the comment around and focus it on the other person than on yourself.An acknowledgement conveys that the other person has observed something about you, your role or your work that bears commenting on. A sincere compliment is a more dedicated, personal, and often more specific, reflection of their thoughts.

There’s nothing wrong with delivering a heartfelt compliment, but it’s more powerful to turn the comment around and focus it on the other person than on yourself.

Think of a time when you may have complimented someone starting with “I.” This could be anything from “I like your hair” to “I think you did a good job!” These two sentences may sound like you are giving the other person praise, but in reality, you’re subtly making it about yourself.

Instead, make the compliment about the other person. Replace “I” with “You” and notice the difference: “Your presentation was so easy to follow, everyone is on board.” Or “You nailed that presentation by clearly being prepared!”

Additionally make your acknowledgement specific. Consider a compliment such as, “Good job!” This may seem like an appropriate thing to say, but in fact it’s a bit generic. Make this compliment stronger by specifically stating what the person has done well at, such as “You did a good job finalizing the Jones account. Your work has helped us achieve our quarterly goals.” When you take the time to show the other person that you admire their work, they will feel more valued by you as a co-worker.

Refining your compliments may seem like a small thing, but it will make a big difference to your team members. Learn more about how to speak to others with confidence and clarity through our Leadership Presentation & Image Skills program.