It struck me this afternoon that you’d be interested in one of the very powerful ways to win strong relationships with the people around you. One of the great secrets to achieve influence is to make people feel good when they’re in your company. And how do you do that? It’s so easy – compliment them.
The idea came from that excellent book on influence: “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Faber and Mazlish. And I promise you, it isn’t just kids who’ll want to listen and talk to you after you’ve read it!
Now obviously you want the compliment to sound authentic and spontaneous. Nothing is more insulting than flattery or insincerity. That will lose you respect. And the compliment needs to “land”. What I mean by that is that the person you are aiming it at will be able to take it on board and treasure it. So “Well done!” or “That was great!” are meaningless. There isn’t anything that the person can hook onto that is personal or identifying. In fact, it can be demotivating – or at least, easily dismissed.
The secret to a great compliment is to be very specific. Firstly describe what you saw that they did or said. Go into detail as to what you noticed or heard. So for instance,
“I noticed that you began your presentation with a question – and you paused to let what you said sink in. You even looked at us and smiled. Then and only then when you’d got our attention, you continued.”
You are describing what you saw and heard – you make it into a narrative. You are saying to them that what they did has had an impact, has meaning for you.
Then, you sum up your perception:
“And I call that fine stage presence!”
The narrative is like the drawing of the bow. This summing up is like the shooting of the arrow straight to the target. You’ll touch people very directly. They’ll warm to you when you employ this technique. I know – I use it all the time!