How to Praise Someone

The English word praise can be derived from the French preisier, which means “to prize.” To sincerely praise someone conveys a sense that the recipient of the praise is prized by another. Every human being needs to feel prized, or valued by at least one other person. But how to praise someone effectively and appropriately is an art to be learned, much the same way that social manners are learned.

If a compliment is given too casually or insincerely, the recipient will know it isn’t fully meant and could react in one of two ways: either he or she will feel that you are buttering them up to get something in return, or will assume that you’re just trying to get noticed yourself. They may also think that you are fishing for a compliment in return. In any case, an insincere compliment is out of place and in poor taste.

Conversely, a genuine compliment can make someone’s day, or even turn their life around. The story is told of a young homeless boy who stopped to help an old lady pick up her spilled sack of groceries. When he was finished, the lady said, “My, you’re a nice little boy.” Those words spoken to that dirty little orphan changed the course of his life forever. He grew up to be a successful businessman.

How to Praise Someone

If you are the type of person for whom a compliment is difficult to deliver, here some pointers that will help you to learn how to give others compliment.

Basic Praise—Specific and Genuine

The art of delivering a simple compliment is not hard to learn. There are people all around you daily to whom you can offer a word of simple praise that will go a long way to brighten someone’s day. A sincere, “Thanks for bagging my groceries so carefully,” to your grocery clerk is easy to say, truthful, and will make the tiresome job a little easier.

If at all possible, address the person by name. Many service people wear nametags. Take time to notice it. If you are an employer, take time to notice something your employee does well, and mention it. “Larry, the shelves you stocked look so nice and neat. I appreciate your efforts to make our store look good.”

Advanced Praise

Once you’ve mastered the art of giving simple compliments, you can move up to the next level of praise. At this level you not only use the person’s name and compliment them on something specific, but you may also call attention to the talent or quality you see in them that produced the commendable behavior.

“Larry, the shelves you stocked look so nice and neat. You really have a talent for organization and for displaying the merchandise in an attractive manner.”

Here you have not only noticed your employee’s efforts to do his job well, but you have told him about a quality you see in him that he may not have recognized in himself. Sincere praise offered truthfully and warmly will bring out the best in a person. The next time that Larry restocks the shelves, he will be even more attentive to the display, and use his creative talent to arrange the merchandise in the most pleasing way possible. In praising Larry, you not only built his self-esteem, but you benefit yourself because your customers will enjoy shopping in a pleasant and attractive environment.

Praise For an Achievement

When a person has worked hard to attain some personal goal, it is very rewarding to hear someone acknowledge their achievement. A sincere compliment can make all those days or years of hard work seem worth it. Whether written or verbal, it’s important to acknowledge the achievement and be sincere.

“Congratulations on your high school graduation. I know this is a proud day for you. A lot of hard work has finally paid off.

“I just read a copy of your new novel, “Candy’s Doll,” and could hardly put it down. It’s a great read! I hope you’ll write another one soon.”

More expressions of complements and expressing appreciation could be:

How to Praise Someone’s Work Performance

The giving of praise to an exceptional employee isn’t limited to the employer–employee (some examples have been shown above). As an employee, you can compliment a fellow employee. Or, as a customer, you can compliment an employee. It’s all about acknowledging good service in whatever form that service may take.

“Dear Sir: Your employee, Mrs. Jones, went above and beyond the call of duty when she stayed late last Thursday evening to complete the funeral brochure I brought in to your desktop publishing department. My mother’s funeral was the following day and I really was desperate to get the brochures done and printed that evening. Please acknowledge her kindness and the beautiful work she did on the brochure.”

This brief note names the person who did the job, tells what was done that was exceptional, why it was so important to the customer, and asks that the employer recognize the employee for bringing goodwill to his company.

Tips on How to Praise Someone

  • Praise needn’t always be verbal. Sometimes just asking someone to help you on a special project conveys to that person that you see a talent or quality in them that you admire and wish to utilize. Utilize, not use! People do not appreciate being flattered just so they will submit to being used. But when they feel needed and their talent is utilized, that is an unspoken compliment. An appropriate award or gift, a cash bonus, or a special parking place are also ways to praise someone.
  • Be careful not to over-praise. If you over-praise someone, it can give him or her a feeling of insecurity. They will feel that they then will need to live up to your praise, which maybe at that point in their life, they can’t. If you tell the budding author that her book was the best one you’ve ever read, she may be afraid to write another for fear it won’t be as good as the first.
  • Practice makes perfect. A real man can master the art of giving a sincere, warm, and truthful compliment. Practice this art at home on your spouse and kids, at work with your fellow workers, and with everyone you meet.
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