Praise is powerful and under the right circumstances it can be transformational unlocking the human potential. You might think I’m exaggerating the effects of a simple and sincere compliment, but evolution and science is on my side.
Why You Don’t Compliment
Our brains are wired to pay more attention and give more weight to negative experiences as opposed to positive ones. Cavemen and women learned to stay safe from daily dangers (a.k.a. negative and life-threatening experiences) and have evolved to meet new social fears emerged. Here are the top three excuses for why you don’t compliment:
- I’m shy.
- They already know.
- I don’t know what to say.
I’ll override these objections in order: 1) Compliments are a low risk and offer high returns, which is an excellent way to overcome your shy social anxiety. 2) Most people love to hear how well they did and often rarely receive positive feedback. 3) You’ll learn how to give a compliment in less than a minute in a few paragraphs.
Benefits of Compliments
Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Compliments will boost the confidence, self-esteem and respect for both the giver and receiver. Simple positive feedback can truly be all that stands between someone being successful and giving up. Beyond the basic feel good factor, here are the top three reasons to praise:
- Encourage strugglers to achieve.
- Reinforce learning a new task.
- Strengthen relationships.
Offering an accomplished person a compliment can lead to self-improvement and finding a mentor. “I really enjoyed your presentation today. How did you get so comfortable with public speaking?”
How to Give a Compliment
Without delay, here are the steps to take in order to provide a heartfelt compliment:
1. Pick a person. It can be a coworker, mailman, secretary, boss, teacher, stranger, friend or enemy. Use their name as it conveys respect and because most people appreciate hearing their own name.
2. Find a feature. Characteristics can be concrete or intangible like a smile, sunny disposition or hairstyle. If your praise is vague, it can sound insincere so be specific.
3. State with sincerity. Only give a compliment when you actually mean it otherwise it will fall flat. Unearned praise is false flattery and can be perceived as manipulation. Honest comments ring the bell of truth and are valued above all.
Examples of compliments:
“Barbara, that’s a lovely blue coat you’re wearing.”
“Pamela, I admire your ability to provide insightful editing.”
“Steve, I appreciate you support more than Santa appreciates chimney grease.”
Courage to Compliment Challenge
I challenge you to compliment a different person every day this week.
1. Your Spouse or Significant Other
2. Family Member
3. Close Friend
4. Work Associate
5. Local Business
6. Restaurant Staffer
7. Complete Stranger
Make magic in less than a minute by giving a genuine compliment and create an everlasting smile.
Your Turn: What compliments have you recently shared?