The power of compliments

The power of compliments can never be underestimated.  Mark Twain famously said “I can live for two months on a good compliment”.  

World Compliments Day (yes its a day) falls on the 1st March each year.  And its a terrific day to reflect  on the value of  compliments for the other 364 days of the year.

Far from being a fluffy date (there are no Hallmark cards ha) and sugary concept, compliments are an under-utilised gift that keep on giving.  They strengthen relationships with friends, family, staff, suppliers, job candidates, clients and ourselves. 

The official   WCD website  shares that the the purpose of the day is to spread joy through simple verbal affirmations of appreciation.  And that “a sincere personal compliment costs nothing, but has the potential to make an enormous impact. Professional recognition is important”.

Few would debate that people have become lazier and more disconnected in a saturated digital world where self-interest and preservation rules.  Compliments and gratitude have declined over the years which is ironic given the need is greater now than ever.  

Overwhelmed with business challenges, negativity and trauma in newsfeeds and social media we are hungry for more  joy and inspiration to keep plugging away.

The neuroscience 

The neuroscience of gratitude and feeling valued is well proven.  The resulting increase of the happy hormones, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins have a real impact on our mental and physical wellbeing.    The positive flow on from our professional to personal lives and vice versa is significant.

Sincere compliments are a balm to fortify our being, give relief on the crappy business days, build confidence, provide support and motivate.  The benefits are wide ranging.

I for one couldn’t get through life and business without the pleasure of giving and receiving them.   Read that again, giving and receiving.

Seeing the joy an unexpected compliment brings to someone is magical.  I love surprising retail workers as they stand a little taller and their self-worth expands.

Everyone, no matter their external confidence will be more creative, productive and loyal when feeling appreciated. Never assume extroverted people don’t need a boost. 

Honest vs Fake

Honest compliments start with the right intent.  It comes from appreciation. It’s about making another feel genuinely special and valued.

Fake compliments are surreptitious flattery, sleazy innuendos or manipulative.   They are disingenuous, sycophantic, effusive self-serving or snake oil sales gushes.  They can be over the top back slapping on social media.

The 5 Love Languages

In the classic book ‘The 5 Love Languages’, Dr Gary Chapman researched what people needed in their relationships. 

Not surprising ‘words of affirmation; was number one.

Quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch followed.

The findings are as relevant to professional relationships as they are to personal or romantic ones. 


Recommend a read of the book  here:



Why some struggle

 Many men and women struggle with giving &/or accepting compliments.     Accepting is an issue for many as they downplay or reject them.   A simple thank you is all that is needed. 

Some reasons preventing giving or receiving include:

  1. Low self esteem
  2. Jealousy
  3. Negative thoughts
  4. General lack of trust
  5. Underestimating the positive impact of giving a compliment
  6. Fear of being misjudged as fake
  7. Fear of losing standing
  8. Concern of appearing conceited
  9. Perfectionism
  10. Never received from family or others
  11. Mindset believing people are paid to do a job or supply a service and that’s enough 


Tips for giving

  • Check your motivation so it lands well
  • Look for a positive that isn’t obvious
  • Don’t just say, great job, well done – give context to why it was a great job etc.
  • Praise along the way as people learn and improve
  • Be generous
  • If you think it, share it
  • Asking someone’s opinion is a great compliment. Ask and engage.
  • When rejecting a candidate, proposal or offer find a genuine compliment to share in the communication. People are humans and there is always something worthy to compliment.

Building your compliment muscle  

  1. Practice and more practice
  2. Give yourself a pat on the back daily for something you did well
  3. Write in a daily journal of gratitude
  4. Pay attention to the positive things around you
  5. Just say thank you more often generally
  6. If you admire an important action or result from a competitor or a someone you may not like personally, hey why not step up and tell them. Imagine the good will it will bring back.


Our personal reputations are aligned to how others perceive us.  And a large part of that is how we make  others feel about themselves when they are around us.   That lingering feeling if you will.

Genuine compliments build memorability and trust.  And that makes great personal and professional sense.

Media articles on the benefits of compliments


Posted in

Like to know more?

Then get in touch with Sue Parker via your preferred method - email, phone or web contact form.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Please type your message.