3 Step Framework for the Perfect Compliment
Learn the benefits of giving and receiving compliments, the challenges of extending powerful compliments, and the 3 Step S.O.S. Framework.
Human relationships are built on communication. Our communication skills give others information about who we are, what they can expect from us, and how responsive we are to them. Good communication draws people into us. Bad communication creates friction and distancing.
Alice, a recent client, manages several employees in a customer-facing setting. Alice struggles with inattentive type ADD and often overlooks important environmental details and interpersonal cues. She’s not unlike many adults with ADD. What sets her apart, however, is that she invests in self improvement.
In one session she brought to the table a particular issue she was having with a subordinate. She had told a direct report, “You did good work on that project. I like what you did.” Later, when it got back to her that the employee was upset about her statement, Alice was utterly confused. Alice believed that she was developing good will, reinforcing skills, and encouraging a member of her team. From the employee’s perspective, however, it appeared that Alice had no idea the effort that was put into completing the project or the time it took to put it all together. The subordinate felt overlooked and discounted.
As Alice and I talked out the situation, it became evident how her well-intentioned words missed the mark. Receiving them was like receiving a participation trophy. They meant nothing in the context of the project or the subordinate’s abilities.
Compliments are an important part of communication. The extension of a well-worded compliment has several benefits, including:
*Creating positive emotional experiences for oneself and others.
*Creating and strengthening interpersonal and professional relationships.
*Providing valuable information regarding what someone is doing well.
*Promoting confidence in oneself and others.
*Demonstrating personal integrity and honesty.
Most of us face some specific challenges to giving good compliments, particularly those of us with ADD and its symptoms. Communicating a powerful compliment requires:
*Slowing down and taking notice of the environment and of other people.
After our coaching session, Alice worked on being mindful of each employee’s activities and behaviors. She became an observer at work. She made notes about what she saw and heard. When it came time to give feedback in the form of a compliment, she was prepared with specifics.
Not only that, but she practiced relating those specifics back to the job duties performed by those in her department. Making these connections, enabled her to speak the language of her organization and industry when relaying a compliment.
Giving a powerful compliment can feel scary because it’s a two-way street of information. We worry that the other person won’t like us, or will question our motivation for the compliment, or that someone else will criticize us for speaking up. Alice allowed herself to feel fearful of saying the wrong thing, accepted the discomfort as part of the process, and practiced extending better compliments.
By developing mastery of communicating compliments, Alice changed the emotional atmosphere in her workplace and increased productivity from her team. She also gained their loyalty and began connecting with each person at a deeper level. How did she achieve this turn-around? She began using the S.O.S. Framework for compliments. A compliment must be:
A compliment should name a project, a behavior, a result, a piece of data, etc. relevant to the person receiving the compliment.
The compliment should reference behaviors, words, results, data, etc. that can be observed and validated by others on the team or in the community.
We compliment others because we want to, not because we have to or because we’re trying to gain something in return. A compliment is a gift without strings. Others can detect when it isn’t sincere.
Now, instead of empty compliments, like, “You did good work on that project. I like what you did,” Alice digs in and says something like, “That 95% customer satisfaction rating that came out of the campaign you spearheaded to greet every customer by name and provide a self-introduction contributed to a sales increase of 11% last quarter. Thank you for staying dedicated to it even when some of the team was pushing back.”