Can you praise without patronising?

Praise is like sunlight to the human spirit; people can’t flower and grow without it. Praise releases neuro-peptides, our ‘natural opiates’, and endorphins, the brain’s ‘feel good’ chemicals. That’s why it’s so nice to receive a genuine compliment.

Interestingly, paying a compliment also releases neuro-peptides and endorphins, so giving a compliment makes us feel almost as good as receiving one!

Here’s how pay a compliment so you’ll feel great and so will the people around you:

  • Focus on things the person has some control over. That means your comments aren’t empty flattery. Flattery focuses on things people have little or no control over, like listening to a customer’s complaint, while genuine praise concerns something a person does, like how well they’ve dealt with a thorny customer problem.
  • Another way to give a great compliment is to give reasons, to say what you like and why. This is a great way to praise because it lets the person know what to take the time and trouble to do again.
  • Make sure your compliment is sincere, too. Did you know that we have 100 billion brain cells, and 10 billion of them are ‘lie detectors’? People quickly sense false praise.

People like us and trust us for how we make them feel. Praise is a wonderful way to make people feel great and build strong working relationships.

Discussion questions

When was the last time you praised a colleague or a member of your work team?