Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to give compliments

Compliments are one of my favorite parts of socializing. They set strangers at ease, they are conversation starters, they open doors and they make any situation just a little more fun! Being able to recognize the good and the admirable in other people and then being able to tell them in a way that makes them feel good and admired is a talent and a skill.

I can still remember some of the most thoughtful compliments that I've received in my life and they still make me happy and boost my confidence when I think of them. Many of the best friendships in my life have started that way - with brief, but meaningful, praise.

Regular, every day, "Hey I like your hair" compliments are nice, but its the ones that take a little more effort that really hit home. Here are a few of the strategies (tips? tricks? tactics?) that I've observed for giving great compliments.

1) Be specific. Compliments mean the most when they show that the giver was paying attention. An eager, "Ooo! Cute dress!" will have less of an impact than, "I love the way your dress brings out your waist." The more specific you can be, the more it means.

2) Bring it back to the person. When you bring the compliment back around to the person, you are praising their talents and characteristics instead of what they can buy. For example, the next time you admire your friend's shoes, follow it up with, "You have great natural style," or "I have always admired your flare."

3) Be sincere. Fake compliments are transparent and can make the receiver feel as if they are being mocked. If you can't mean it, don't say it. Not everyone you meet will have a look or a style that you want to emmulate, not every talent is one that you can fully appreciate - This is also an opportunity to compliment people on their efforts, successes and accomplishments. Look for something you can trully appreciate, or take a pass and try again next time.

4) Share a little. Careful here, don't make it all about you, but letting someone know that they have had a positive impact on you is one of the best compliments you can give. "You are a good speaker," is lovely to hear under any circumstances, but "You speech made me want to be better friend," gives their act greater meaning and purpose.

5) Ask a question. Compliments are the perfect opportunity to start a conversation. Follow up your compliment with a question that you'd honestly like to learn about. Even a question like, "I love your necklace, where did you find it?" can be the start of a great conversation or a great friendship.
6) Pass it on. Sometimes it can be difficult to deliver a compliment directly to the recipient. If you are shy about complimenting someone directly, or if they are just hard to get to, share the compliment with someone close to them - a friend, a spouse, an assistant - and ask them to pass it along. And if you hear a compliment, by all means, share!

Next time, how to receive a compliment.

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