5 Tips on how to give compliments and express gratitude

(Harvey, et al., 2016)

1. How do I respond to compliments?

  • “Thank you, I appreciate that”
  • “It’s kind of you to say that”

2. How do I give compliments?

(Lowndes, How to Talk to Anyone)

We’re more likely to repeat actions that others like, than to respond to criticism. If you want someone to change, catch them doing things right.Three steps:

  1. Tell the other person exactly what action they did correctly
  2. Tell them how the action helped you or the organisation
  3. Express your honest and sincere appreciation

Ways of giving complements:

  • Be first to applaud or publicly comment
  • Praise immediately after an event
  • Accidental adulation “You’re too young to remember”
  • Because you’re so knowledgeable of …
  • You’d zip up the stairs…
  • Positive grapevine:
    • Tell positive someone things the of others
    • If someone’s doing well – tell the boss
  • The Personal Complement: Specific and personal
    • You have lovely teeth
    • Exquisite eyes
  • Give complements – every 6 months, in private and credible
  • Little strokes – regular, little praise
    • Nice job
    • Well done
    • Best chef in town
    • You look great

3. How can I be positive with incomplete work?

  • John, yesterday, when you wrote that list of addresses down you carefully double-checked them with me
  • I appreciate the extra trouble you took
  • It will help us be accurate the first time, and considering how busy we are here, that’s vital. Thanks, john.

Don’t focus on what they should have done. It can demotivate – they may feel you are ungrateful for all they have done, and hopelessly unable to achieve.


  • “John, I noticed yesterday that you didn’t double-check the addresses with me. You must do this in future because it is important to be accurate”

This is not positive reinforcement

4. How do I reduce negativity in my team?

When someone is normally negative

  • “Arthur, I was thinking of the time tonight that you supported the boss, after the majority vote on the venue I noticed that your support had a positive effect on the group. Everyone felt good to have one thing settled”
  • “Thanks, it’s good to work on committees with supportive people because we achieve a lot.”

It might feel a bit transparent. But it helps on the unconscious level as well as the conscious level. If someone only gets negative feedback – then this is a different experience.

Enhancing Friendship

Someone normally backs out of team events at work, but this time they came.

  • “It’s great that you could come to the meeting today.”
  • “Thanks for rearranging your schedule so that we could come. I know it took an effort.”
  •  “It’s really great to stop and celebrate now and again. It makes me realise that’s what we work for.”

5. How do I express gratitude?

Gratitude has been proven to be a significant cause of positive outcomes. When people are trained to be more grateful over a period of weeks, they become happier and more optimistic, feel more socially connected, enjoy better quality sleep, and even experience fewer headaches than control groups. (Achor)

  • When was the last time you congratulated someone for something they had done well?
  • In a normal day you often do you praise someone for something they’ve done?
  • Think of someone close to you (friend, partner etc). For every ten times you praise them, how often do you criticise them?

Using A Gratitude journal

 Sit down at the end of the day and reflection the day’s events. For some this could be called ‘counting your blessings:

  • Appreciation – Find 2 events you enjoyed or got a sense of satisfaction from and record these
  • Now decide to try the positive reinforcement twice each day – 
  • Choose two things you want to say – and check you did at the end of the day

There are many applications available to store moods / emotions / or a diary. You might find it easier than running a paper journal.

A good tool for creating journals is daylio.webflow.io. It provide a way of tracking moods, and storing short journal entries. you can export the information to use as a diary later.

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