Have you ever received a hollow compliment from someone? “You are doing a great job” – “Keep up the great work”
While they mean well with those words, the truth is the compliment doesn’t do much for you and it doesn’t engender much respect or connection to them.
As leaders, we are told to praise our people. As parents, we want to raise with praise. But I fear that all too often what we do is give hollow, meaningless compliments and no one is that much better for them. Not the giver nor the receiver.
As a family, we started doing something a couple of years ago that has helped me learn to give genuine compliments. Every night before we go to bed, we say a family prayer. We rotate whose turn it is to say the prayer going in order of age. I go first, then my wife Sarah, then my kids in order Andie, Tanner, Drew and Lizzy. Before that person says the prayer we “Love about them”. Each person has to give a genuine and specific compliment that says something they love about them.
These compliments can run the gamut from “I love your laugh – it’s contagious.” to “I love the way you got excited when you hit the ball at your T-Ball game today.”
We always make sure that the compliments are real and specific. Sometimes that means helping the kids to not say the same thing over and over again – but it is a great opportunity to share our love for each other and to learn to give good compliments.
I realized the impact it has had on me the other day when I pointed out something specific I liked about someone’s shoes and complimented them and they said, “You are good at giving compliments” I had to think: Is that a thing? Being good at giving compliments. And I think it is because most people are bad at giving compliments.
So here is the formula: A compliment should be G.P.S. – Genuine, Personal and Specific.
When we give compliments that are real and we genuinely feel them and believe them – people know.
Compliments that are personal – whether that comes from what means a lot to you or points out something that means a lot to them – are powerful.
And the more specific the better. Details mean you notice and you care.
When you give GPS compliments, they resonate with the person who receives them and they increase your connection. That is the reason for giving them in the first place!