How to Compliment People in a (More) Sincere Way

The curse of working as a journalist for almost a decade is that spotting truth from deceit comes so easily. And it does in a way that could render you jaded looking at how often people lie to you, without them being aware that you could actually tell that they’re not telling the truth.

Or perhaps, people avoid the truth because they refrain from skidding into conflict. So they end up saying amazing, awesome, wonderful, fantastic, blowing up our egos instead of providing us necessary feedback so we could improve in the future.

But regardless of what the reason is, sincerity matters because the truth matters. At work, we value sincerity because it helps us grow professionally. If you’re my colleague and you’ve never told me how awful I wrote our proposals for the past few years and instead kept on saying I wrote them very well, you’re not being sincere. Maybe your intention was to keep me motivated, but the fact that you know that there are things that I should improve means you’re part of the reasons why I’m not growing as a member of the team.

I’m sharing some of the things that might be helpful to make us appear more sincere:


Reduce the adjectives

Great job. It’s the best. Cut those. It’s either you have pretty bad standards, or your vocabulary for adjectives is scarce. But either way, cut your adjectives. Replace your adjectives with verbs. (Instead of saying “it’s an inspiring piece of work”, try saying “your writing reminded to keep trying my best without looking back. It moved me.”)

Elaborate your praises

Please don’t end with great job. We need to know why it is a great job. We need to know why people like it. We are individuals who don’t just exist for no reasons at all. We need reasons. So give your reasons why you’re praising someone. An example:

“Hey, Sarah. Your book was the best book I’ve read. At first, I thought I’m going to read another novel with a generic plot. But it took me to places. It wasn’t just a love story. There were so many historical events that happened in the background. And you wrote beautifully. In fact, I highlighted some of my favourite lines. Here let me show you…”

It’s alright to criticise

If there’s something in my work that you didn’t like, tell me. If the cookies I baked were too sweet for your taste buds, don’t fool me by saying you love it while actually not finishing the entire piece. You’re not being sincere.

(Thank you Robert Baker for the picture.)


3 thoughts on “How to Compliment People in a (More) Sincere Way

  1. Wow! I am enlightened and inspired by this Mick! Because you give me examples on alternative ways of praising from the heart. Thanks!

  2. Please give me your feed back about my personal Blog. So, I can fix it and make it better. I obtain new insight of each story inyour blog. I’m lack of give opinion or criticize something in English too.

    Thanks Mick Basa

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