Compliments – what’s so hard about giving and receiving them? You’d at least think that receiving them would be easy. But it seems many people feel uncomfortable receiving a compliment too. Why? We just don’t hear them very often. Think about it. How many times in the course of a week do you receive a genuine compliment? If you can recall a few compliments you’ve received recently, it’s probably because they’re so rare they actually stick out in your mind.

On that note, how many times do you give a genuine compliment? The truth is, nearly all of us are guilty.

The point is that these kind words not only make us feel good, but they also make us think positively about the people who said them. If employees or family members only hear you criticize, you can bet that as you walk away the dialogue in their head includes words of the four-letter variety.

Have you ever walked away from a person who just gave you a compliment and thought, “What a jerk?” No, you most likely thought, “That was nice. I sure like that guy!” And those are the people we look forward to helping out. We want to do things for these people because they make us feel good about ourselves. Kind words don’t create resentment. Instead, they give employees a reason to reciprocate this good-will (and hopefully not just when you’re there watching).

Here are a couple key points to remember.


Whether at work or at home, think of some positive things you can say to each individual, regardless if it’s something simple to see or if it takes a little extra effort to find. Try to give at least one compliment to each person, once every week or two. But be careful not to overdo it or you risk seeming insincere. And speaking of sincerity, by all means be genuine. If you’re not, you’ll be busted and lose credibility and the other person’s trust.

Oh, and one other thing. In order for these kind words to be truly effective, be sure the compliment is specific. Don’t just say, “Good job.” Say “You’re doing a really good job at (fill in the blank)” or “I’ve noticed you’re improving at (fill in the blank)… Thank you. I really appreciate it!”

Giving compliments costs nothing and yet the return on investment is huge. Don’t be afraid to give somebody you know a genuine compliment; you might just make their day. PD

Tom Wall