We all pass out compliments at some point or another, most often with the intention of expressing a positive sentiment toward another person.
Everything from “I really like your shirt!” to “I think you did a really good job here,” are commonplace in conversation, but they also have one thing in common: The word “I”. A Fast Company story this week points out that when you use “I” in that compliment you’re actually making your statement about yourself, not the other person.
Instead, Suzan Bond, who works as an executive coach, suggests framing your appreciation in a way that focuses on the individual. So instead of saying you like a shirt, say something such as “You have great taste. Your style really suits you.”
“Compliments are shallow, generic, and often focused on the giver rather than the recipient,” Bond says. “By starting your praise with ‘I’, you’re subtly making it about yourself: You’re using what they’re wearing to make a statement about your sense of taste.”
She also recommends focusing on specifics with acknowledgments. Rather than opting for a generic “Good job!” for instance, you might say “You did an excellent job with those reports and included great details!”
It’s a small nuance, for sure, but it can make the sentiment in your statement seem much more sincere.