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How to Give a Good Compliment

A good compliment lifts a person’s spirits, creates rapport and builds trust. Giving a compliment comes easily and naturally for some people and it feels difficult and awkward for others. It is simply a skill that takes practice to develop.

Here are some tips:

1.  Pay Attention. The first step is to take notice of other people. Notice how they look and how they make you feel. Pay attention to what they say.

2.  Be Specific. People like to be known and seen. A powerful compliment is specific, not general. Consider the impact. “You’re awesome” doesn’t compare to “You are so organized and I know I can always count on you.”

3.  Be Genuine. A compliment should always be genuine and authentic. Look for what you honestly like about a person. Tell the truth.

4.  Be Generous. Giving a compliment is inherently a generous practice. Don’t use this as an opportunity to compare behavior that you like to behavior that you don’t. Keep your compliments clean and avoid offering them with corrections and comparisons. “I like your hair this color so much better than red” is actually an insult, not a compliment.

5.  Acknowledge. The most powerful compliments acknowledge who a person is and who they are becoming. Use this language, “You are…”

6.  Champion. Be a cheerleader. Let people know that you believe in them. Use this language, “I know …”

7.  Be Concise. A compliment can lose it’s impact if it is surrounded by explanations and justifications. Keep it brief, simple and direct.

8.  Let it Land. Don’t rush to the next thing. Allow your compliment to be received. Generally people will say, “Thank you.” Sometimes a person will push a compliment away by belittling themselves or minimizing their contribution. Gently repeat the compliment.

9.  Practice. Practice giving AND receiving compliments. Give at least 5 compliments every day. When someone gives you a compliment, simply say, “Thank you.”


Photo attribution: “excuse me! have you given anyone a compliment today?” on flickr is licensed by CC BY 2.0


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Carrie Kish

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  • Wonderful tips, Carrie! Yes, acknowledging and appreciating others for who they are and what they’re up (seeing their Greatness) is empowering, not just to the other, but to the one who radiates the noticing.