We've all received a "compliment" that either fell into the "gentle mockery" or the "sarcastic acclaim" categories. Maybe the people giving the compliment thought they were being sincere -- but it came out poorly.
We've all said stupid things but learning how to give genuine compliments is a skill that will lift others up and create real connections.
"Genuine" is the keyword here. Often, I feel, people give compliments as something to fill the silence, such as, "I love your shoelaces" or "You're really good at snoring."
The goal of a compliment is to make people feel valued and appreciated. Here are some tips to make your next compliments something to remember.
Make it genuine and specific. If your coworker is an excellent event planner, get into the specifics of what she does well. "You handled the details for that luncheon with grace. You made it look so easy. You are really good at planning events that people enjoy. That's a rare skill."
Don't be gratuitous. A compliment shouldn't be over-the-top. It's not a chance for you to kiss-ass, it's a chance for you to show gratitude and appreciation. Phrases like, "You're the best planner in the universe" or "That was the best luncheon in the history of lunches" don't resonate as truth. So don't say them.
Use emotion. When someone goes out of their way to help you out, tell them how you feel. We discount how powerful it is to share emotions with others, but it adds power to your compliment. For example, "I was so touched by your kindness after my dog died. I felt such appreciation that you went out of your way to send me a note."
Practice. The more you give genuine compliments, the better you get. I like to tell people I love their shoes, cause I'm a shoe gal. But I only say it if it's true. I'll tell a stranger in line at the grocery store, "Your boots are so eye-catching. They look sassy and stylish." Okay, maybe I don't say "sassy" but you get the picture.
A compliment can be delivered in person, by text, or in a handwritten note. To make it even more powerful, give compliments in front of others. Give them an example to follow. Compliment a coworker during a meeting, a daughter during a family dinner, or a friend at a party - the opportunities are endless!
Peri Kinder is the owner of Life & Laughter Coaching. She's a happiness coach, yoga and meditation instructor, and award-winning freelance writer. She is the host of the Life & Laughter podcast.