For me, Christmas is about giving; giving gifts to express appreciation and gratitude to the people in our lives we care about the most. While millions are racing around, shopping for that last-minute perfect present, don’t forget the best gift of all. This holiday season, give your loved ones something incredibly valuable. Give Your Voice. Give someone a heart-felt and genuine compliment. Let me suggest a great formula for how to do it best.
But first, I want to say that we just don’t give enough compliments. We are stingy with one of the most beautiful and easy gifts of all. I’m not talking about false words of flattery, sugar-coated sayings, half-truths or manipulation. But a true, powerful and genuine compliment. Do you dare speak from your heart with the courage to tell your friends and family something about them that you really like? Can you make this a Christmas gift from your heart- something they will remember long after the shiny-toy gifts are forgotten?
Why do we avoid giving compliments? Why do we also get flustered and deflective as soon as someone else tries to give us a compliment? I believe one of the answers is that most people don’t know how to give a good compliment. They have simply never learned how. There is a quote from Norwegian Poet Odd Børresen who said “If two Norwegians are standing on the street and one is giving a compliment to the other, I don’t know who is having a worse time!”.  And this is something we really need to overcome. Giving a compliment is good for you and good for the person receiving. This is the easiest Win-Win scenario possible.
In my pitching and presentation workshops I often ask participants to describe how to give a good compliment. Most people don’t really have a good answer. Many years ago I learned a simple formula that helps make a compliment more valuable and meaningful for the person receiving it.
Compliment + Data (proof) + Open Question
The first step starts with creating a genuine compliment. Sit down and think for a moment. What is something you like or admire about this person. Don’t you dare fake it! Be real. Be honest and think about this person and get clear about one thing you admire. Then ask yourself WHY you admire this about them. This is a great inquiry into who you are. For example, I admire Michelle Obama for her courage to speak out with dignity rather than vitriol. Why? Because I recognise in myself all the times I have not been as courageous as I would have like to have been. So first identify what you admire about this person and connect it to your own life and heart.
The second step is to identify some specific data or proof. You need to validate the compliment with facts. What have you have seen or heard about this person that backs-up your compliment? For example, with Michelle Obama I would refer to the speech she gave about “When they go low, we go high”. I thought that was such a powerful demonstration of dignity. You need a data point to validate any compliment, otherwise it doesn’t have the same effect. Think hard about this. This data will allow the person receiving the compliment to really take it onboard rather than just deflect.
The third and final step is to ask them an open question about themselves. Why is this important? Because you want to give them to have a chance to internalise and reflect on the compliment. This third step really helps the compliment to sink-in and be received at a deep, deep level. For example, after giving Michelle Obama my compliment (and data), I would end by asking something like “Who are the people who have inspired you to be courageous?”.
So there you have the formula:  Compliment + Data + Open Question 
I challenge you to try this out this Christmas. Give gifts from your heart.
Merry Christmas to all,   – RICK SALMON (Voiceable)
This week, challenge yourself to compliment 3 different people every day:
  • A loved one or friend. Compliments are an easy way to strengthen bonds between you and the people you care about.
  • A co-worker. Be someone at the office who spreads joy. Seek opportunities to compliment your colleagues.
  • A young person. Young people need nurturing and encouragement. One of the best ways is through a thoughtful compliment. You have no idea how much this can mean to them.
  • A stranger.  Make some random person’s day. Just a simple “nice coat” compliment will suffice.
Join me this week for a free webinar and discussion aboutThe Art of Pitching.