"I can live for two months on a good compliment."
- Mark Twain
When you make people feel good about themselves, they're more likely to want to be in your company. Paying a compliment is a verbal gift; it's an expression of praise, approval and encouragement that is meant to acknowledge an attribute, quality, ability or any number of good characteristics of another person. Giving a compliment focuses your attention on another person and that makes them feel good.
It's easy to give compliments once you start doing it. Sometimes though, the most difficult part of getting over the compliment hump is getting used to looking for something to admire and acknowledge.
Four Quick and Easy Steps to Get Up and Running with Your Compliments
1. Choose something that you like about the other person.
2. Address him, either by name or with eye contact.
3. Say your compliment.
4. If appropriate, elaborate a bit or state why you like it.
It's that easy!
Compliments don't have to be long, drawn-out monologues; they can easily be brief and to the point. Take, for example, these short but effective compliments:
"I really like your positive approach to life."
"You did an excellent job on our website."
"You really know how to decorate!"
"You're a fantastic cook."
If you know the person's name, add it in for that "personal touch."
"I really like your positive approach to life, Sue."
"You really know how to decorate, Sam!"
You could even venture further into more expressive compliments with ones that are more descriptive:
"I really like your positive approach to life, Sue - it makes me more positive too."
"You did an excellent job on our website, Rebecca. Not only does it look more professional, it's also easier for the user to find the right information."
"You really know how to decorate well, Sam. Your ability to coordinate different colours is a real talent!"
New to Compliments
If this is a new way for you to interact with others and you're not comfortable with it yet, start by giving mental compliments. As you pass by someone - on the street or bus, in the hallway, at the coffee shop - consciously take note of them and pay them a compliment in your mind. Don't just have an idea of what you liked, but make your thought into a complete sentence as if you were speaking to them.
Do this in your mind for a few days to get the hang of it. Once you've put some thought into giving a compliment and are more comfortable with it, start saying them out loud. You can begin by offering a compliment to the people you're most comfortable with like your friends, family or neighbours. Then try it on those who you know less personally such as your colleagues, peers, employees.
Give compliments to people you interact with daily including the person in the coffee shop who makes your morning cappuccino or the superintendent of your building.
Don't feel that you have to linger around the person after you've given the compliment. If she thanks you for it (assuming she has the social skills to do so!) and a conversation begins, great. If not, just wish her a good day and go on your way.
Paying someone a compliment is also a good way to begin small talk and get a conversation going. Once the compliment is received, ask a follow-up question and start a conversation. For example, you could ask:
"How do you stay so positive?"
"Which software did you use? Do you recommend it for the novice webmaster?"
"Have you studied interior decorating?"
You'll notice that as you begin to acknowledge others, they'll begin to react more positively towards you as well. They'll more likely be friendlier and may even start giving you reciprocal compliments!
Laurie Wilhelm manages the Express Yourself to Success website: a one-stop e-source with information and techniques on communication and interpersonal skills, public speaking, networking and conflict resolution. Achieve your success by working effectively with others. Find out how you can boost your career and get a free eBook, What You Need to Succeed: Social Skills.