Why do we so often forget that it’s the small things in life that have the largest impact? It seems so simple and yet often overlooked: a genuine compliment offered at the right time, in the right way, can help your relationship-building stock soar to new heights. Financial planning and a sound budget are great, but if you want to be assured of a happy life, build an “annuity” with your words.
Hey, we’re all human, and we all love to know we are appreciated. King Solomon is recognized by historians as one of the wisest people who ever lived. He said, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” and “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”
To get your “word annuity” started, begin with some praise for your spouse, significant other, co-workers or children. CAUTION: Fake or forced compliments can do as much harm as good.
Never try to manipulate your audience with insincere smooth-talking or phony flattery. You may think you’re good at it, but nobody is that good for very long. In a world overflowing with slick advertisements and clever marketing ploys, everyone has their antennae up for BS and con-artistry. Just open your eyes, be present in the situation and offer a heartfelt acknowledgement for qualities you admire and appreciate in those around you. And while you’re taking the time to notice the small stuff in your relationships, you may also recognize opportunities previously overlooked.
People not only respond to those they like but also reciprocate in kind and with kindness to the people who make them feel welcome, appreciated and generally good about themselves. You’ll attract people by giving their self-esteem a boost. Some may say this sounds self-serving, but it is a fact of human nature.
The four keys to “praising” correctly are:
- Be specific. The broad-brush “thank you” and “by the way, I think you’re great” are OK, but for maximum impact, make it precise and particular. Tell them exactly what it is you admire about them, with plenty of details.
- Be sincere. Maybe you’re a bit sheepish about giving compliments. If so, practice on people you know best to get more comfortable. It will get easier. Look a person in the eyes, maybe grab his hand or forearm and just say what you like about him or her.
- Go public. For maximum effect and impact, it’s easy to amplify your kudos by stating your compliment when in a group or public setting. No need for a megaphone or PowerPoint slide presentation, but perhaps over dinner or in a small group at a reception or happy hour, sing their praises.
- Go old school. Put your praise in writing, but avoid modern communication styles (text message, Facebook post or email). And don’t use your computer’s printer. Grab a pen and paper, and write in your own hand that special compliment or thank you. Take a few minutes to write what you value about them. Do this in the evenings while you’re not distracted and even if you make a mistake, just cross it out and continue. It shows you really are human and cared enough to write.
It’s true that we get back in life what we give. Use compliments and see how much better your life can become. Life is supposed to be fun.