February 25, 2012

The backhanded compliment

The right way to compliment someone is acknowledge their achievement in a way that doesn't make them feel as though they "lucked" into something. I feel as though people and organizations go un-acknowledged at times because they're often praised for things that were out of their control, or aren't specific enough.

If you truly want to compliment someone, here are a few ways to communicate what you mean with what you're saying.

Someone has lost weight: "Wow! It looks as though you've been working really hard. I can only imagine how hard that would be, I'd love to hear about how you've managed to reach your goal!"

Not: "WOW YOU'RE SKINNY!" > The latter (for me) isn't taken as a compliment, as it's not acknowledging anything the person has tried to achieve... maybe a deeper yoga stretch or posture, or attending spin classes 4 days a week. Complimenting someone or exclaiming in a very extreme and exaggerated way usually leads to embarrassment rather than feeling proud.

Someone has advanced in their career: "Great job. You're projecting a really professional persona, I can see why someone would notice all the extra effort you've put in."

Not: "You're so lucky. I wish I could get lucky enough to find  a job!"

Luck has nothing to do with career advancement. Everything comes down to timing, as well as a million little steps to get to where you're at (networking at a big dinner... what did it take to snag an invitation? Putting in extra hours, or making your objectives clear and going after them? Probably not walking into that dinner accidentally.)

Dog ownership: "You're dog is so well-behaved! It looks like you two have a great bond"

Not: "OH MY FREAKING G she is SO cute!"

Training a dog is like teaching a child basic skills. It's difficult and rewarding, and is often under appreciated. Making a connection between a dog and an owner, breaking into "tricks" and great listening skills are witnessing true "aha!" moments, and having someone acknowledge that is priceless.

Here you go! I hope any readers can take something from this, and learn that compliments mean more when they're thought out and make an effort to observe what it took for that person to achieve whatever you're acknowledging.

Happy weekend, world! 

1 comment:

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