The Importance of Compliments

Compliments are an important part of communications in a relationship. By high-lighting a persons good points, their efforts, their qualities, that person will appreciate the attention and will no doubt try to continue to make an effort in those areas. Good attention is a powerful motivator.

In the early days of a new relationship a couple are eager to reinforce the feelgood factor of being together, building the connection and close bond of a strong unified commitment. Compliments can form an important part of improving each others sense of feeling special, together and loved. And especially in the early days a couple are often eager to recognise each others special talents, their cute mannerisms and attractive characteristics.

Compliments by definition are free. They are a way of passing on a good feeling and are an excellent way of changing a bad situation, mood or bad behaviour. By giving some good praise to another person because we feel that they deserve it or because we want to, is a generous gesture, especially when nothing is expected in return.

Children respond well to compliments. Parents of a badly behaved child are often advised to ignore the bad behaviour, pretend it has not happened, and really praise and enthuse over the good behaviour. Children will often learn to modify their behaviour through this approach. They want attention, and learning to give them good attention when they behave well and no attention when they behave badly can often be a successful tool in turning bad behaviour around.

The best way of changing someones’ negative behaviour is to completely ignore it and really praise the good behaviour, compliment the person for their insight, manners, whatever. They will enjoy receiving the positive attention and often continue to strive to achieve more. This approach is much more effective than having to have a quiet word with someone. More subtle and so much more productive.

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Recognition and praise are a positive way of motivating people. Children in a classroom, staff in a work environment all respond well to genuine compliments. Often staff will be more motivated by compliments and recognition than by other incentives.

Delivering bad news can be done painlessly by using compliments. Saying how wonderful someone looked in a different outfit or how good they are at another skill can ease the blow of negative feedback in the present situation. There is some praise to be had, even if not at this particular moment. It is about being kind enough to compliment the person and not look to devastate them, but also appreciate the need to be honest if something is not right or good enough.

A compliment needs to be sincere and have no riders attached to it. Platitudes are more than worthless. Just saying something complimentary to pacify someone is easily detected and most people are put off by something so shallow. Also adding a comment to the end of a compliment only serves to reduce its value. So saying ‘that was a good job’ or ‘you look lovely’ are both positive comments that a person can feel good about. Adding a rider like ‘try to keep it up in the future‘ reduces the value of the remark.

What about those times when we suspect that a compliment may not be genuine, that someone may be being superficial or even sarcastic ? It could perhaps be a possibility that our personal confidence levels need to be improved. We may be feeling a little suspicious or uneasy about the comments because we are feeling stressed or not too good about ourselves. Why not enjoy the remarks anyway ? Why not just smile, say ‘thank you’ and allow yourself to practice saying those good remarks to yourself, use them as a way of boosting your personal confidence and self-esteem. Interestingly, when you do that you will usually find that you start to relax and feel better about yourself as a consequence.

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Susan Leigh, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist

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1 Comment

  • Jina , August 12, 2010

    The more we practice being positive the better we get at it; the easier these good feelings come and the longer they stay. When we practice and feel these emotions we become closer to what many of us have as our common goal = peace of mind, happiness, mental clarity, kindness.

    For more easy tips on physical and mental health check out this blog:

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