[email protected]

18 Nov 2010

Strategically Using Compliments in Relationship Building

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Strategic Complimenting

Compliments are an extremely effective way to build morale and relationships. However, they are not as easy to employ as one might think. It’s not just a matter of saying something nice; it’s a matter of saying something positive about something that is important to the other person. There are two broad types, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic compliments refer to things “outside” of someone and intrinsic “inside.” Intrinsic compliments will tend to make a greater impact than extrinsic ones. Their disadvantage is that they tend to be harder to pinpoint and describe. For some, intrinsic compliments are more difficult to deliver because they require a higher level of sensitivity.


Four Basic Types of Compliments


Extrinsic Compliments

1.    Things: compliment what they have.

2.    Job: compliment what they did.


Intrinsic Compliments

3.    Values: compliment what they believe.

4.    Talents: compliment their innate qualities.






  • You have a nice car.
  • You look good in that dress.
  • You have a good laptop.
  • That’s a neat picture you have.



  • Your values of paying attention to the details saved us.
  • You have a super work ethic.
  • Your honesty is refreshing.
  • I’m glad you believe you shouldn’t take advantage of those types of situations.

  • You did a great job on that project.
  • You did real well on that assignment.
  • That was some good advice you gave.
  • Those people really felt you helped them.

  • You have a unique talent for that work.
  • You have an innate ability to defuse those types of situations.
  • You have a special quality that allows you to really help us here.
  • That’s a real gift you have.


Series NavigationStrategic Complimenting (Pt 2): Six Expectations >>

3 Responses

  1. Wouldn’t complimenting someone on a good job they did be intrinsic? It seems to me that doing that good job comes from inside a person (an experience, or a value); it’s not something that can be taken away from them.

  2. The article is right on target with the adverse consequences of extrinsic reward systems. The level of unintended unethical behavior may surprise the average person; however, many members of the corporate club just roll their eyes when they read the articles recommending reform. Unfortunately, the MBA programs are just beginning to address this matter and the good old boy network still in place, just want to get their piece of the pie before any radical attention is given to the problem. Just read the news and as recently as this past week the financial industry reported that CEO bonuses are back to the pre-economic collapse levels again. Another great resource is the work by Harvard Professor, Teresa Amabile. She has been studying the subject in the Fortune 500 companies for years.

Leave a Reply

Powered by Paranoid Hosting™. 'Cause you never know...