Compliments – making people feel good



Compliment (noun) – a polite expression of praise or admiration

Compliments are wonderful at making us feel good and research indicates that receiving a sincere compliment can give us the same internal boost as receiving money. Compliments make people feel happy and can boost work productivity.

Whereas in pre-war society making comments on food, drink, house decoration was considered particularly rude, times have changed and compliments are always welcome – to the point of even now being expected.

However, sincerity is still very important as a shallow compliment hold no weight unless the recipient actually believes what you are saying.  If the food is delicious then do let your host know that their time and effort has been worth it!  On the other hand, to remark that the meat is tough would be extremely rude and not at all welcomed.  Should anything be wrong with the food, it is safe to say that your host already knows this and is feeling awful – best not to add to a bad situation.

When paying compliments to people avoid any personal remarks which may offend, such as health or weight issues, and concentrate more on a specific compliment.  Ladies in particular are far keener to hear that their new hair looks wonderful, or that their new dress is very flattering, rather than a general and unimaginative “you are looking well”. At the same time, men can feel a little sidelined by the attention bestowed upon female partner – compliments on the cut of his suit or noticing that he may be wearing a new tie will never go amiss!

If you have been fortunate enough to be taken out to an event such as a theatre production or a concert – a compliment paying specific attention to an aspect of the performance is far better than it being a general compliment – “the set design was outstanding – did you notice the attention to detail with the room decor…amazing” or “I was astounded by the performance given by the string section – so clear and precise – a beautiful thing to hear”.

In the workplace, compliments are essential for boosting morale and getting the best from your staff.  If a member of staff has done well be sure to let him know that his efforts have been noticed and appreciated.  Far too often, staff go above and beyond what is expected from them – if their efforts go unnoticed, there is a high chance that their performance will slip.  Staff like to feel appreciated and the knowledge that their efforts have been noticed and appreciated will make them strive to achieve more.  Happy staff make for a productive work place.

However, my one main bugbear in the whole of the complimenting scenario is the use of the word “nice”.  With all the rich and wonderful words that the English language has – nice should be avoided at all costs!  Personally, if something is considered nice, then it was barely worth the effort!

The English School of Manners & Etiquette





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