There’s something that’s not found in copious quantities in the business world. It’s odd because with it, work and productivity would be greater. Are you curious about what it is? It’s not very complicated. It’s giving compliments to others. It seems to me that the only times compliments are intentionally given are at performance reviews. It doesn’t have to be that way.
One of the reasons may be that it’s hard to say something nice. In one of my programs on Serious Creativity for New Business Ideas that Work, I demonstrate this by showing a picture of a portable wagon. It folds flat for easy transportation. The picture of this wagon looks different to someone who is unaware of its portability. I ask the group to comment on my wagon design. When participants don’t know that the wagon is folded, they immediately say things like, “The wheels are in the wrong place,” “It doesn’t look like it will work,” “The handle is on backwards” and other negative comments. It’s often that I have to ask the group, “Is there anything good about this thing?” Someone taking pity on my poor wagon will kindly volunteer, “I like the color.” Well that’s something!
When I point out that it’s much easier to say something negative—to criticize—than it is to say something positive, most people are amused and surprised. They don’t realize what they’re doing. In business today, where you have to get so much done by influencing others, it seems to me that being liked by others should be a top priority. One of the easiest ways to get someone to like you is to give them a compliment.
What can you compliment? There are lots of things if you pay attention. Thanking someone is a great way to compliment them. You could say, “Great job. Thanks for helping me. Your attention to detail really helped the project succeed.” Make sure you notice what you want people to continue doing. In too many organizations I hear about people sauntering in to meetings late. Why not thank those that come on time for their promptness?
If you get compliments, please take the compliment graciously. By that I mean if someone tells you thank you, your only response is, “Your welcome.” “No problem” is not acceptable. It minimizes the person’s compliment and you appear too impassive.
Try to take compliments in the spirit they are given. I got a chuckle from the compliment given to Bret Stephens, the writer of "Global View" in the Wall Street Journal‘s foreign affairs column. Here’s what the reader said. “Your prose was eloquent. Your argument, persuasive. Your conclusion, decisive. Your writing was worthy of the original version of ‘Battlestar Galactica.’"
Oh well, I’m sure it felt good for at least a little while.