4 Compliments Anyone Would Love to ReceiveBy Steve Calechman
Giving compliments can fall into one of two categories. We either don’t give them as often as we know we should; or, when we do voice our praise, we stick to the superficial—“nice shoes,” or “I really like your haircut”—rather than the truly meaningful. There’s little debate on the benefits of saying nice things to other people. In the workplace, doing so can lead to increased harmony and productivity; in our personal lives, it brings us closer and just makes everyone feel warm inside. So how come it still feels like exceptional behavior rather than a default setting?
Debra Roberts, LSCW, a communications specialist and author of The Relationship Protocol offers three reasons: They don’t know what to say; they don’t think the words will be well-received; and, they don’t think the compliments are needed. Catherine A. Sanderson, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Amherst College and author of The Positive Shift, adds another—paying a compliment requires putting others in the spotlight. “Giving one involves being less egocentric,” she says.
But Before You Say Anything …
You have to get out of your head. “You can’t compliment someone unless you’ve noticed them,” points out Sanderson. It can feel awkward, maybe embarrassing, especially if you’re not usually prone to handing words of appreciation out. A daily gratitude journal can help you observe and appreciate the outside world, and writing this intel down lets you practice before you have to verbalize. But take it a step further and give yourself a reasonable goal. Start with giving out one daily compliment to whomever you choose. “The first few days will be challenging,” she says, “but eventually, it will become a habit.”
While there’s no such thing as an all-purpose compliment, there are contexts that get overlooked and undervalued, which are ripe for kind words, all which can be tweaked and customized for the situation. Take a look at the suggestions below.