HOW many compliments did you give in the last week? How many did you receive? Probably not very many.

Compliments are a great way to boost someone’s mood. People yearn for recognition and appreciation. Compliments are easy to give and cost nothing. So why are they so rare?

Learning how to pay compliments is one of the single most effective things you can do to improve the way you relate to others. With a little practice, you can master the art of the compliment.


Be sincere and positive

Before giving a compliment, remember to smile, make eye contact and use the person’s name. A smile makes you appear friendly and sincere. People always respond positively to a warm smile.

Eye contact also conveys sincerity. People distrust those who will not look them in the eye when speaking.

Using the person’s name helps you connect with others. People feel good when they hear their name. As Dale Carnegie observed, a person’s own name is the sweetest sound in the world — to him.

The compliment itself should be direct, sincere and positive. We often compliment a person’s physical appearance or a possession. However, compliments about personal qualities and behaviours are more meaningful than those directed towards appearance or possessions.

To make a good compliment even better, explain why you like something and not just what you like. People will understand your reasons for complimenting them and will be less likely to wonder about your motives. For example:

 “You’re always so optimistic and positive, Ann. It feels good to be around you.”

“It was kind of you to help me unload those boxes, Pat. You saved me a lot of time. Thank you so much.”

Compliment people on qualities that are not obvious. Complimenting something that has been overlooked by others will sound more genuine and will be greatly appreciated.


Where to start

When you consider how effective compliments can be and how easy they are to deliver, there is no reason not to use them. Start today, but start slowly and gradually increase the frequency. If you suddenly begin to compliment everyone around you, they may question your motives.

And never give a compliment when you want a favour in return or you will appear calculating. Pay compliments only when you do not want anything from that person.

A compliment is a gift that can make a person’s day. As you become more comfortable in paying compliments, you will feel good about yourself and make others feel good, too. They will also feel better about you.

Article by David Goldwich, the Persuasion Doctor. He gives talks and conducts workshops in negotiation, storytelling for leaders and other areas of influence and persuasion, and has written four books. Learn more at

He will conduct a one-day workshop, Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road? Effective Communication Skills, on Oct 15 and a two-day workshop, Effective Strategies For Handling Difficult People And Situations, on Oct 16 and 17. For details, call LCI Executive Seminars on
6536-0801 or e-mail