How can I give a compliment at work?

Published on: 4 September 2023
It's true that receiving a compliment is always fun. You might think that giving compliments is, but it's not always. You want to avoid coming across as a suck-up, especially at work. Here are some tips on how to give your compliments.

In these days of keeping your distance and working from home, receiving a compliment can feel good. But often, giving a compliment isn't so simple. You don't want to compliment your boss to avoid becoming the darling. You don't want to tell your colleague that he's done something great, otherwise he'll think you want to take over his project. And complimenting your colleagues could make you look like a forced "cool boss".

But how do you give a compliment properly... your line manager?

There's nothing wrong with giving a compliment. On the contrary, inventing a compliment you can't stand is much worse. Saying that you found his notes very useful and then not even reading them puts you in a difficult position. Instead, you can give a compliment when your boss teaches you something.

The trick is to be very specific about it. If they've helped you on your way with a difficult email, you can say, "Thanks for your advice. That line about how an extra week can take us even further gives confidence and makes it clear that we're still on target." By associating a compliment with a lesson you've learned, it sounds much more sincere. your team-mate?

You want to avoid two things when complimenting your colleagues. On the one hand, you don't want to give the impression that your aim is to be liked by everyone. Secondly, you don't want to come across as authoritarian. By complimenting your colleague, it may appear that you enjoy evaluating him or her.

You also need to be very precise. Compliment your teammate on their speciality. Something that you certainly don't want to include in your duties and that he's very good at. For example, if he's updated the website and you've already heard good things about it from customers, you could say: "5 customers have already phoned about our new website. They think it's very good". That's more sincere than saying that someone is "doing good". your employee?

Employees want valuable feedback. Show them that you notice changes. If someone who isn't normally on time suddenly turns up on time every day, you can talk about it. But don't give the same compliment to someone who is on time every day.

Employees want to know when they've done a good job and when they've exceeded your expectations. If you see them growing, show that you notice them. Does he or she complete a project, suggest a new working method or take action in areas where improvements were needed, then compliment these positive changes. Again, be specific and choose a specific example.

To your network of contacts?

You probably have people in your network who you admire, who win awards and speak at interesting events. If you overload them with compliments, it can quickly look like idolatry and that doesn't help your network.

Try to add something to your compliment to make it stand out. Don't just say "What a great advert on LinkedIn" but mention if you have any other sources on the subject or suggest a connection from your network. That way, they're not just giving compliments, but have an extra message.

Do you like to give compliments? It's a good thing! You want to show the people around you that you appreciate them. But try not to overload them with compliments, as this could quickly come across as insincere, which is the exact opposite of what you want to convey. Use the tips above to give constructive and sincere compliments and avoid people seeing them for different reasons.