“It is a great mistake for men to give up paying compliments, for when they give up saying what is charming, they give up thinking what is charming.” – Oscar Wilde
Compliments are nice. We can agree on that, can’t we? Even if we find receiving them uncomfortable, or giving them tricky, we can agree that they are basically a good thing, right?
Not only are they a good thing, but they are actually a big help for our resilience and the general positivity of our relationships. Personal resilience can be manifested by the self, but it is much easier to have a spring in your step when somebody tells you that you are doing a good job. Similarly, giving someone a compliment, and them receiving it well, can also make you feel good. Compliments are important and can be powerful… but they must also be consciously given and received.
To stop them from going awry, and to use them to their full potential, here are some thoughts on giving and taking compliments…
1. Mean It
The idea of a compliment should never be the reason to give one. If you think to yourself, ‘I am going to give X a compliment now’, the likelihood is that it will be somewhat manufactured and ingenuine. A genuine compliment comes from a readiness to be positive towards others. So, when a moment arises when a compliment is needed or appropriate, you are ready!
2. Compliment Specifically
A compliment means more if it is about something that is genuinely important to the recipient. Not only with this actually mean something significant to them, but it will also let them know that you have been paying attention to who they are and what is important to them.
3. A Point of Connection
To ensure that the recipient knows that a compliment is being paid and that it is coming directly from you to them, ensure that you connect with them. This might be a handshake, with direct intonation in the voice, a smile… but what is most important is eye contact… creating a personal moment of real connectivity.
4. Don’t Overblow It
Compliments are an act of generosity, but should not be heralded as some big event. They should be an everyday gesture, a little top-up for the recipient’s confidence, not a great big, one-time event! Also, seeing as this is an act of generosity, compliments should be given with kindness, without an expectation of reward. By complimenting expectantly, you are stripping the moment of genuineness and making about the self.
1. Accept with Thanks
I am terrible at this. If someone were to say to me, ‘Oh, I thought that piece you wrote was really excellent.’ I’d probably say something along the lines of, ‘Thanks, but that was just a silly thing I wrote.’ Recognise this. Many of us tend to say thank you and add a coda of negativity to oddly make sure that we don’t appear too big-headed. Take the compliment and own it. It was a gift given to you, so don’t besmirch it as soon as you receive it. A simple ‘thank you’ is all it takes!
2. Don’t Throw Compliments Back
Another problem with receiving the compliment half-heartedly, as exampled above, is that you rob the giver of the compliment they have given you. You have rejected their kind and genuine offer. So, in your plight to shrug off this gift of positivity towards you, you have potentially been a little rude to the kind person opposite you.
3. You Don’t Have to Repay It
Another thing we do, in order to avert attention from compliments about our own achievements is to try and equal or trump the compliment. Not only is this not the point of complimenting in the first place, but the parry compliment you offer will be ingenuine, inorganic and degrading to the original offer. Just take it, own it, and be thankful.
By Chris Thomson
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