How to Give a Compliment Without Generating Awkwardness

    Jeevan Sivasubramaniam Posted by Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, Managing Director, Editorial, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.


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    How to Give a Compliment Without Generating Awkwardness

    Giving compliments is a difficult thing--way more difficult than it may seem. For one thing, most people tend to be awkward when accepting compliments, and for another, a lot of people are also suspicious as to the compliment-giver's true motives for giving the compliment. Even people who are usually at ease in conversation can be uncomfortable responding to certain compliments. But the key is to not just give a compliment and wait for a response. If you give a compliment and then immediately follow up with a question, it kills the awkward space by quickly filling it with something else that is a lot easier to respond to. Also, your motives don't come as much into question because you are not following up on the compliment nor waiting for a response to it but quickly moving on.

    For example: Imagine if someone came up to you and said, "I really love your writing and your ability to express your ideas so well." This can cause awkwardness because you can respond with a "thank you" and then fumble about for whatever else you could add. Now imagine if someone came up to you and said, "I really love your writing and your ability to express your ideas so well. Do you find it easier to express your ideas in writing or in speech?" Tension diffused and new topic introduced.

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