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The key to giving compliments is sincerity. There is something about a fake compliment that is easy to spot, and is embarrassing for both giver and receiver. A good compliment is a little outburst of enthusiasm and positivity, and as such should be delivered spontaneously and simply. If you prepare compliments in advance, or think too much about what you are going to say before you say it, you may end up sounding too smooth or too polished, which is suspicious. So the rule should be, as soon as you are moved to say something nice, do so.
Be specific and concentrate on a single achievement rather than making a generalization. This shows sincerity because you realize the importance of that achievement. For example, instead of saying 'you are an excellent cook', compliment them on a specific dish, 'That quiche was simply delightful'. Be wary of damning with faint praise, so don't qualify your statement by saying 'That quiche was excellent - considering the state of your kitchen'. Do not compare their achievement to somebody else's, or some other achievement. A compliment needs to flatter the receiver on it's own merits.
Giving a compliment in a timely manner is just as important as the sincerity of your compliment. So aim to deliver the compliment very soon after the achievement you are complimenting has been attained. A compliment given in front of others conveys the fact that you want witnesses to hear proof of its sincerity.If for some reason you miss the window of opportunity to make a spontaneous compliment, you can always come up with an excuse to write a note afterwards- a card saying thanks for dinner for example- and include your compliment within it.
When someone compliments you, the simple steadfast rule is to smile and say thank you. Do not shrug off a compliment or disagree with what they are saying as this will show that you think the other person's judgment is poor, and dissuade them from complimenting you in future. Another important rule is to not upscale a compliment. For example if someone says to you: "The board of directors liked your presentation today" Do not say something like: "Liked it? They absolutely loved it. It blew them away."Another thing you should avoid if you have been given a compliment, is to immediately reply with one back. This can sound insincere, even if you mean what you say.
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