How to Compliment Coworkers

Simple as they are, compliments contain immense motivational power.
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Compliments in the workplace are a lighthearted, cost-free way to bolster your coworkers' confidence and strengthen your professional relationships. Like a lot of day-to-day etiquette, giving a compliment becomes just a bit more complicated when it happens at work. Compliments don't become an entirely different beast in the professional environment, but they do require a bit more consideration when you give them to fellow employees.


    The workplace gives you plenty of opportunities for compliments. Incentive magazine provides some suggestions for common workplace compliments, including outstanding communication, constructive changes, efficiency, new ideas, loyalty, initiative, overcoming struggles, sensitivity, upbeat behavior and positive results. Whatever the case, be specific. For instance, if a coworker presents a great idea at a staff meeting, say something like “your idea for upselling those new printer cartridges is really innovative” rather than just saying “good job back there.”


    In an article for, Life Coach Cheryl Matthynssens recommends using the person's name when you give them a compliment to add a personal touch. Giving a coworker a sincere compliment when others are listening can really illustrate your esteem for that person. Above all, be honest in both your content and delivery. Your coworkers, like most people, can see through dishonest compliments; the most truly appreciated kind words are typically the most sincere.


    Compared with, say, complimenting your best girlfriend on her new jeans, compliments in the workplace come with a whole new set of boundaries. In general, it's not appropriate to compliment people on their looks or appearance when you're on the job. As a rule of thumb, keep the compliments work-related rather than highlighting personal qualities -- personal compliments are much more likely to be misinterpreted.

More Tips

    When you receive a compliment at work, it's typically considered polite to give one in return. In any case, always receive compliments with a polite “thank you” rather than a brush off or a skeptical response. To get your kudos streak started, U.S. News and World Report recommends giving your most annoying coworker a compliment. This exercise helps you recognize the strengths of others, even those you don't normally get along with. To get familiar with in-house etiquette rules, always read and follow your company's handbook or employee guidelines.

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