Complimenting others when they’re not around

When you’re complimenting people you work with or know without them knowing, find a few moments to go back and let them know what you said.

I’ve often heard folks (or, in some cases, me) say some version of – “Of course she knows how much I appreciate her.”

I’ve come to realize that they often don’t know. And, even if they do, a small action like that can have a big impact on their day.

These small things are the big things in the long run.

Generosity with compliments

If a book has made an impact on you, let the author know.

If you really enjoyed a performance, send a note to the performers.

If an event changed your perspective, write to the organizers.

We often benefit greatly from the efforts of others. Sure, they’re likely doing it because they’re getting something in return – a salary, personal satisfaction, learning, etc. But, compliments generally mean a lot. This is not just because it makes you feel good as a builder (it does). It is because it helps you understand what is working. Generally, you get so much negative feedback about stuff that isn’t working that it becomes fairly easy to zero in on what needs to be fixed. But, it is much tougher to understand what is having impact.

Writing an email to thank someone or complimenting someone as you pass them in the building doesn’t take much. But, it can mean the world to someone and greatly brighten their day or week. It isn’t easy being a builder. There are enough opportunities for you to get knocked down without even getting to all the inevitable feedback.

Compliments go a long way. They don’t cost us much. Let’s make it a habit to be generous with them.

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Specific compliments

There’s a lot of focus on giving specific constructive feedback. Radical candor, etc., etc.

I believe there needs to be as much of emphasis on giving specific compliments. Don’t just say – “you did well” – help people understand what they did that resulted in the compliment.

A specific compliment is powerful because it can help point to a strength that the doer didn’t know of. For all our focus on eliminating weaknesses, weaknesses only avoid trouble.

It is our strengths that help us do work that matters.