How Complimentary Are You?

How Complimentary Are You?

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Expert Author Susan Leigh
We all love to be praised, complimented and appreciated for who we are, what we've done. It's a good feeling to be recognised, perhaps for our efforts, sacrifices and commitment. Being complimented helps us to relax, feel better about ourselves and manage stress. Yet how many of us notice the times when we could graciously be returning the gesture? How complimentary are you?
We may never discover how much effort was invested by the other person into what they've done, their actions or gestures. Even something as 'simple' as attending an event on our behalf, delivering a message, making a call may have required courage, determination, logistical shuffling that they don't disclose to us. Noticing and being complimentary may make it all worth while.
- The best type of compliments are those that are unsolicited, when someone, without even thinking about it, gives an easy, enthusiastic burst of appreciation about how good we look, a piece of work we've done, an effort made on their behalf. They're readily thrilled and eager to share their joy about us with us.
- Unconditional compliments are important, when somebody says, 'well done', 'you've done a good job', 'you look fabulous'. There are no strings or conditions attached and we can revel for a time in the good feelings that come with being recognised in this way. Giving unconditional compliments is a great way to help others feel better, manage stress and feel more invested in whatever they're doing.
- Conditional praise almost always carries a sting in its tail, as in, 'great job, hope you'll always work this hard', or 'well done, let's hope standards don't slip in the future'. There's some praise, but it feels rather grudgingly delivered. It can be tempting to add a little rider to any praise or compliments we're giving, a few words to encourage the recipient's continued motivation and good performance. But doing so can actually have the opposite effect, prompt resentment and cause the receiver to speculate if they'll ever be good enough.
- Appraisals offer an opportunity to be complimentary in a work environment. Making regular time to listen to staff members is an important way of really investing in them and encouraging their future development and commitment to your business. It's important to listen to them, what they envisage by way of future progression, hear any comments, suggestions and observations they may wish to make. Feeling supported in this way will enable staff to thrive more, manage stress and improve their future performance.
- Listening, without presuming or prejudging is a compliment in itself. People feel respected, valued and important when they're listened to and it helps in cultivating good relationships. Equally, being aware of the language used makes a big difference; vocabulary, tone, body language all matter, especially if it's in an official setting like an appraisal. Beware of using phrases like, 'you always', 'everybody has noticed', 'we think', or 'if I were you', all of which can come across as superior, condescending and judgemental. The use of appropriate language can be a vital component in effective communications, help to manage stress and achieve a valuable outcome for all.
Being complimentary and expecting nothing in return subtly influences how you come across. Choosing to give praise, recognition or say something positive and being okay about that being enough, without waiting for a rejoinder or a similar comment in reply underlines the genuine warmth of your sentiments.
- Remember that every area of your life can benefit from you appreciating someone with a genuine compliment. We're often quick to pull up our children for a fault or omission, criticise our partner for some perceived short-coming, but instead of noticing all their 'bad' points instead start focussing on the 'good'. Dispensing praise, gratitude and compliments is a big investment in those relationships and can result in a much happier household. When things are good be quick to notice, acknowledge and appreciate. Everyone feels better as a consequence and you'll often find that more 'good' behaviour occurs.
- Why not give away compliments? Have you ever noticed a really smart stranger in the street, someone wearing a distinctive outfit or witnessed a lovely gesture? You could comment, make a positive remark, give them a compliment - you may well make their day.
When compliments are genuine, well-intentioned and honest they help to lift someone's spirits. After all, we don't know what's going on in someone else's life. You may deliver a ray of sunshine into their day, perhaps the only one!

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