The Art of the Written Compliment

You’re a really perceptive person, so I’m sure you already knew it was National Compliment Day last week. 

I’ll confess that I didn’t, but luckily I’ve got a Twitter account.  All you’ve got to do is log in, and that day’s official designation will be revealed.

(I see it’s National Croissant Day today).

But National Compliment Day grabbed my attention.  Whether you’re giving or receiving, there’s nothing like a sincere, well-meant compliment to lift your day, and it costs absolutely nowt.

Compliments are gorgeous, gift-wrapped wordy treats…so why don’t we  indulge a bit more often?

Well obviously, I know why.  Lovely as they are, compliments are often fraught with potential embarrassment.

Giving a compliment is an art, but so is receiving one.  I still cringe at the twenty year-old memory of a workmate complimenting my outfit, which I’d thrown together because I’d been running late that day.

I’d been feeling self-conscious about how awful I thought I looked, so when the compliment was paid, I lobbed it back with impressive gusto.

“What do you mean?  I look bloody AWFUL!” I said, so loudly and vehemently that heads turned. 

My lovely compliment-payer shrank back in cheek-burning shame.

“OK…you look awful, then…” he mumbled, as we shuffled back to our respective desks.

Thankfully, these days I’m better at repaying the odd lovely remark with a ground-breaking “thank you”. 

But if you’ve been burned in the past, or you simply struggle to find the right words in the moment, telling someone how great they are in writing is a fantastic compromise.

Tempted?  Here are a few ways you can do it.

Write a surprise review

As much as we moan about how life has set up permanent camp online, there’s no getting away from it.

It’s why we receive so many begging emails, incentives and bribes to write nice things about the people we buy our cat litter from.

But a well thought-out, complimentary review you didn’t have to ask for?  That’s worth more than gold.

(Particularly when you’re in charge of a business that consists of just you, and you wake up on some mornings wondering if it’s all worth it.  When someone unexpectedly notices your brilliance, it fires you up, and you understand why all the hard work really is worth it).

Writing nice reviews is a surprisingly good pick-me-up for you, too – it gives you the lovely warm glow that comes from having done your good deed for the day.

Send a handwritten note

The best thing about handwritten notes is that while they don’t cost anything (well, apart from the stamp), they can make just as much impact as a lavish bouquet of flowers (which as we all know, will wilt and die). 

Chocolates also make a nice gift, but then you have to contend with people’s annoying diets. 

So if you’re struggling to find the perfect way to tell someone how much you appreciate them, why not write it all down in a nice card instead?

Send an encouraging email

This method is fantastic if you’re worried about paying a face-to-face compliment to someone you don’t know all that well, especially at work. 

It’s also a really good way to stay in touch with others when you’re busy.  You might not be available to offer them immediate help, for example, but you can offer positive observations that let them know they’re on the right track.

You could say thanks for a helpful presentation, for example, or compliment someone on their newly-launched website. 

It might not sound like very much, but your words will seriously lift their day…and in the process, yours.

Finally – be sincere

We all know an empty compliment when we hear one, which is why honesty,  sincerity and detail are key.

I hope you’re feeling fully prepared for next year’s National Compliment Day – why not test-run a few examples in the meantime?