A compliment is a powerful tool that, when done correctly, can create a strong bond between two people. A compliment is also a great way to show appreciation towards someone. It is a gift that costs no money. However, many people do not know how to give a proper compliment. They give a compliment that says more about themselves than it does about the person they are directing it to. Here are a few suggestions in order to say a compliment that will be selfless and one that the recipient will appreciate:
“I like your dress.”
“I think you have a great smile.”
“I am impressed by your knowledge of world events.”
A compliment directed at another person should always be about the person receiving it. However, starting a compliment with the word “I” automatically frames the compliment around the person giving the compliment. While this form of a compliment is not incorrect, the more selfless a compliment is, the better it will be welcomed by the recipient.
“That is a nice dress.”
“You have a great smile.”
“You know a lot about world events, which is impressive.”
An Extension Compliment is one where you compliment something that belongs to someone. This can be targeted at something tangible like their jewelry, less tangible like their smile, or intangible like something they said. By praising something that is an extension of themselves, you are indirectly complimenting them. To compliment someone directly would be to praise what defines them as a person, which is what Compliment Type #3 aims at.
“You look nice in that dress.”
“Your smile brings out your great personality.”
“Your knowledge of world events is part of what makes you such an impressive person.”
The Direct Compliment does not praise the object belonging to the individual, rather it uses that object as a vehicle to compliment the person specifically. The more direct a compliment, the more insightful it will seem. Using what you see and know about a person, give them a compliment that praises who they are instead of what they have.
People prefer to be judged on what they do rather than what is immediately visible to the eye. Complimenting something they wear is impersonal for that object was bought and may be worn by anyone. But complimenting something about them that is part of their persona and cannot be bought or sold is much more personal. These are usually the person’s intangible qualities. Tangible qualities include what you can see, like their jewelry, clothing, and physical characteristics. Less tangible qualities are what they do, including their laugh, smile, and gestures. Intangible qualities are what defines them as a person, including their personality, talents, and interests.
The more times a person hears the same compliment, the less value it has. People who excel in a certain area, including musicians and athletes, as well as physically attractive people, often hear the same compliment over and over again. Therefore, in order to give a compliment the person will cherish, look for the less obvious. For example, a musician may be dabbling in psychology in their spare time. Complimenting them on their knowledge of psychology rather than their skills in music will hit a chord with them (pun intended) because this compliment is one they do not hear as often. Look for the less obvious characteristics of a person and compliment those. By being different, your compliment will be recognized.
Too much circulation makes the price go down.
~Robert Greene, 48 Laws of Power
Conclusion: Compliment someone every day.
A compliment can come in many forms and degrees of intensity. The benefit of complimenting someone is that, ironically, this action makes the person giving the compliment feel better. In fact, psychologists who study positive psychology recommend giving at least one compliment every day. Psychologist Shawn Achor recommended to his audience during his TED Talk to “email one person every day to thank them or pay them a compliment.” Using the techinques described above, you will unleash a powerful compliment that the recipient will wholeheartedly appreciate.