Tag Archives: language

The Formula for the Perfect Compliment

In late October, 2009, I received a perfect compliment.  It wasn’t perhaps the best compliment I’ve ever gotten, because it was purely external – that is – about my looks.  Regardless, it was so powerful that I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

Dude, she’s a goddess.

It was a perfect compliment because it was personal, sincere, “accidental,” simple and big.  To enhance your executive charisma and compliment someone in this same powerful way, build as many of these five attributes as you can into your comment.

  1. Make it personal.  Make it about who the person is – make it a characteristic.  Do this by forming your compliment around the word “be.” For instance, instead of you look beautiful, make it you are beautiful. By assigning your compliment to who the person is rather than what they do, it will stick much longer.
  2. Make it sincere.  Most compliments are sincere.  Unless you asked for it or prompted in some way, you can be pretty sure the complimenter means it.   Executive charisma relies on always giving compliments that are in line with what you really think and feel.  Just find the great thing you want to praise, and praise it.
  3. Make it look like an accident.  This may be more challenging to pull off.  Compliments are sweetest when they’re not directed at you.  That is, when you receive a compliment directly, perhaps the complimenter has an agenda.  But if they say something wonderful about you to someone else, and you just happen to overhear it, I promise it stays with you.  Plus, you get the extra bonus of other people hearing how wonderful you are!
  4. Keep it simple.  The simpler it is, the more powerful and lasting it will be.  Keep it to one or two key words that you then link to the person with “be.”  Drop any qualifiers like “really.”  While they add emphasis grammatically, they only dilute the compliment.
  5. Make it big.  Instead of starting small and adding emphasis stuff like “really,” just go big from the beginning.  Find the strongest word you can to express what you’re thinking and feeling, and use it!


(He/She/Name) is a (Noun compliment).
(He/She/Name) is (Adjective compliment).

Do these things and maybe you’ll give a compliment that is remembered even 3, 5, 10, or 50 years later.  Remember, you have the power!

What was the most powerful compliment you’ve ever received?  Was it external (about your looks) or internal (about your personality/mind/talents)?  What made it so special?  Please leave a comment below!

Love, CarolAnn

Language and Thought

As a classically-trained theoretical linguist and cognitive scientist, I can guarantee you that there has been a lot of research into the link between language and thought.  The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (that thought is so closely related to language that constructs of the mind are formed by constructs of language) is integral to most scientific researchContinue Reading

View in: Mobile | Standard