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Compliments That Create Positive Change

Vincent Ivan Phipps, M.A.

Remember the last time you did something really well? You anticipated a huge compliment that was oozing with appreciation and all you received was a simple, “Thanks.”

How motivated were you to do it

again? How aware was the other person of the time, effort, and sacrifice put into it? Chances are, you felt unappreciated, and had little desire to do any more favors to that extent for the person again. But hey, they did thank you, right?

When we are on the receiving end of favors or effort from others, we miss opportunities to acknowledge the importance of what they did or how they helped us.

Behavioral science tells us that almost seven of ten people thrive off of others' positive feedback. What would it mean to you if you could get 70 percent of the people around you to be motivated, energized and looking for ways to do things for you?

Follow these three steps to genuinely W.O.W others, letting them know how much they are appreciated. This tool also takes appreciation to a higher level because when this technique is used correctly, you get the other person to continue doing wonderful things for you without you having to ask them. Here are the three steps:

  • Step One: Who
    • Say their name.  Appreciation increases by up to 38 percent when a name is used in a compliment.
  • Step Two: Objective
    • Be specific. Tell the person exactly what they did. 
  • Step Three: What
    • Tell them how what they did made a positive difference. 

Regular compliment: Thank you for staying late.

W.O.W. compliment: John, thank you for staying two extra hours today. The extra time you put in will keep us ahead of schedule.

Plain compliments may take one second – “thank you.” With that one-second investment, what do you really get? The other person doesn’t know what you're thanking them for, they don’t know what to repeat and you get zero credit for showing you know what they did.

A W.O.W. compliment may take about 10 – 15 more seconds. Sure, W.O.W. compliments take a little longer but that extra commitment means the other person knows exactly what they did, they know exactly how what they did made a positive difference and perhaps most importantly, they know precisely what to repeat.

Vanilla ice cream is good. Vanilla ice cream with fudge, nuts and sprinkles is even better. W.O.W. compliments add the sprinkles and hot fudge and the nuts to make them even more enjoyable and appreciated.

Remember, people will continue doing the right thing when it is reinforced that the right things have rewards. Reward with W.O.W. compliments and reap the rewards of repeated positive behavior.


Vincent Phipps is the owner of Communication VIP Training and Coaching.

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