The art of compliments

Offering genuine attention to somebody is a powerful gift. It doesn’t cost anything and its impact creates more than a positive atmosphere. You will be pleasantly surprised to see that simple yet meaningful words are much more rewarding than you may think…

Recognising the positives about others and sharing our appreciation is a fundamental interpersonal skill – it lifts spirits, opens doors to a new level of conversation and strengthens relationships. But think also how they can affect people and bring out the best in them. You become their source of happiness, boost their self-esteem and motivate them. And compliments don’t only make people feel special for a moment. They can also touch them to the core, inspire them and even permeate throughout their life. They benefit both parties, yet when was the last time you paid a sincere compliment?

Like so many other social skills, the art of complimenting is being lost. The daily use of text messaging and emails is changing the way people behave and communicate, as well as weakening the natural ability to share positive feelings. The presence of screens has put a distance between people, and by doing so, has removed the authenticity of conversations – and compliments. But interaction with others is just one of the issues. Many people are also too self-centred, too concerned about their own performances that they don’t pay enough attention to what’s going on around them. The brain, being hardwired for negativity, also has a tendency to concentrate on bad experiences, so it’s necessary to make a conscious effort to notice positive attributes in others.

Irish playwright Oscar Wilde once said: ‘It is a great mistake for men to give up paying compliments, for when they give up saying what is charming, they give up thinking what is charming.’ So be generous and don’t withhold praise believing that it will somehow take away your self-worth. The more you perform little acts of kindness, the better you feel about yourself. Don’t forget that expressing gratitude leads to more fulfilling experiences and is an effective way to increase your own happiness as well as the happiness of others.

How to deliver compliments

Complimenting somebody should be as easy to execute as a simple pat on the back, yet once negative and egocentric ways are overcome, it’s still necessary to find the right opportunity to vocalise thoughts in an honest manner. Here are simple rules on how to pay a compliment effectively:

Be spontaneous

One needs to wait for the right moment, but compliments should also come naturally, with no ulterior motives. It shouldn’t look premeditated, say, as a way of asking for something in return.

Be observant

Paying attention is critical. Tailor your compliments to the other person so you don’t sound unoriginal or dull. What makes that person so special and worthy of your praise?

Be specific

When expressing your appreciation, look further and comment on something deeper. A vague or superficial compliment lacks real meaning and is unlikely to leave a lasting impression.

Be sincere…

A compliment should come from the heart so make sure you mean it. Flattery – false or excessive praise – has the reverse of its intended effect and your words will eventually mean less to others.

… but restrain your enthusiasm

Showering someone with compliments will make you sound either obsessed or needy of their affection, and will more likely embarrass, if not annoy, that so-special person.