I have come to the conclusion that the power of a compliment is not related to it size. Giving a positive accolade can do wonders for someone and these powerful expressions can come in the smallest of packages.
Webster defines a compliment as “a formal act or expression of courtesy or respect”. When you show respect for someone by expressing admiration of his/her actions, talents, abilities, acts of kindness, jobs well done, etc. you may have more influence on them than you know. Never underestimate the power of praise. The assurance that someone receives when you notice them, may help that person to make the best possible use of his or her talents and abilities…their lives.
There has been research that indicates a person’s mind takes 48% longer to understand a negative statement than a positive one, and that compliments are a dynamic force in motivating others. This supports the theory that people try to live up to the praise given to them.
A compliment is not to be confused with flattery. The one rule about a compliment is it must be honest and sincere. If it is not, it becomes flattery which Webster describes as; excessive, untrue or insincere praise. Flattery most often is easily detected and may be considered more of a manipulation of, or disrespect to, someone.
Compliments are easy to give. They can be given directly or indirectly through others; both having tremendous strength. Many times a person who performs a good job not only deserves to be complimented and noted, but may quietly need or want to be appreciated. I do not know of anyone who does not like to hear an expression of approval about a job well done.
This form of praise can be an admiring comment or part of a thank you.
I suggest to people, when expressing thanks, to not just say thank you, but rather include the person’s name and a sincere compliment. This sort of super sizes the effect.
If you are on the receiving end and not used to receiving compliments, you may not know the proper way to accept one. When someone gives you a compliment, simply say “thank you” or “how nice of you to say that”. Nothing further is necessary.
Another good feature of giving compliments is those who give….get. When you give someone a compliment, the look you see on his/her face and your knowledge of how you just made them feel, makes you feel positive about yourself. It is a win-win situation.
The truth is that compliments are not given often enough. The power of a compliment is only limited by its lack of use. Maybe some people just do not understand the positive effect of a few kind words.
Another observation I have made is that great leaders compliment people. Look in your community, church, business…notice how the leaders motivate people through expressing a belief in what they could be or do. I think it’s that one trait of a great leader is an inner confidence, which enables him/her to help a person to rise up. Through bettering the people around him/her, the leader becomes stronger.
So speak well…give compliments…understanding it is your power for good.
Cynthia Grosso is founder of the Charleston School of Protocol. She writes for a number of regional and national publications, including The Post and Courier and the South Carolina Business Journal. Find out more at www.charlestonschoolofprotocol.com.