Decision Making

“This Is What Happens When You Abuse Compliments” – Negotiation Insight

“Compliments like smiles wear off if extended too
-Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body
Language Expert (Click to

(Click to get the book)

“This Is What Happens When You Abuse

“You know what he was saying, right?” “He was
complimenting me,” was the response. To which the retort was,
“he said, you looked interesting, as a black man in a gold
Mercedes. He wasn’t complimenting you. That was mockery! What did
he want from you? I’m sure he was trying to persuade you to do

Even if unintended, compliments tend to persuade the receiver to
adopt a particular view of the sender. And in most situations, that
opinion tends to be favorable. Even when an insidious compliment
comes from an opponent, it can shift the trajectory of the
interaction. Thus, with the best of intent, if you abuse the usage
of complements, they can produce more harm than good.

Here’s what to consider when complimenting someone –
especially if you don’t want to incur a backlash.


Listen to what you’re hearing, and for what’s not said. That
means, to understand the intent of the compliment better, seek to
glean insight by observing the sender’s body language and other
nonverbal cues. As an example, if the praise was about you, as the
black man and the gold Mercedes, you might have detected the tone
of the accolade, body language gestures that accompanied it, and
any statements made immediately after that. That degree of
awareness would have increased your intuition from which to assess
the intent and sincerity of the compliment. After that, if you
thought it was a mockery, you might have pushed back on its
genuineness, or sought clarification about its intent.

If you compliment someone, and you sense they misperceive it,
don’t offer another one to bolster the one before it. Make your
sincere intent known about the initial one you made. If you don’t
do that, you’ll continue slipping down a slope that could pull
you deeper into a chaotic mess of unbelievability about your future

Tip – When in question, always listen
intently to how something’s said, the body gestures and sounds
that accompany it, and what precedes and follows it. By doing so,
you’ll be able to discern better the intent of the words

Abuse of Compliments

Another concern to be mindful of, as the sender or receiver of
compliments, is its frequency. If you’re overly infusive with
your compliments, it can make you appear as though you may be
‘sucking up’ to someone. To that end, you should understand the
personality of the individual to whom you’re complimenting. Some
people don’t like the attention to themselves that compliments

If you’re on the receiving end of compliments, once again,
understand their intent. Question their validity, what the
intention is to make you feel or do, and where the sender may be
going with them. While some people are genuinely pleased about an
aspect of your being, which causes them to extend a compliment to
you, some know how to use tributes as a sly form of manipulation.
If there’s any manipulation to occur, you should be the dapifer
that determines when it happens. The point is, control all attempts
when someone is attempting to manipulate you!

Suffice it to say, if you compliment someone, you should know
the purpose of it, and so should the person to whom you give a
compliment. The assessment and balance of your interactions and
relationship will hang on that scale.

Complimentary Points To Consider

To give a compliment that has more pizzaz, consider these

  1. The more they address specific characteristics a person
    possesses, the higher the chance of it having a more impactful
  • Try to avoid compliments that speaks to someone’s physical
    appeal. If they possess a physical trait that’s genuinely
    appealing, they’ve more than likely heard what you’re saying
    from other people, which will lessen your compliment. Instead,
    focus your praises on their achievements and/or something about
    their demeanor that’s pleasing to you.
  • When giving a compliment, highlight someone’s strengths.
    While you might say, “don’t worry, you’re getting better.”
    An endearment such as that can ring hollow. Instead, you might say,
    “you have improved significantly!” That type of statement has
    more energy in it, and it’s more uplifting.


When extending praise, understand your intent, which means have
a purpose in mind for why you’re offering it. It’s okay to
compliment someone with a sincere intent in mind. Just be sure that
they perceive it as such. If you sense that they don’t, make your
meaning known by stating your intention and rectifying any
ambiguity. The better you become at providing perceived sincerity
when complimenting someone, the more the receiver will be enriched
by them. That will bode well for you, your communication abilities,
and the enhancement of your persona.

It’s always nice when you can genuinely compliment someone.
Delivered and perceived in the right way, both you and the other
person will get a good feeling stemming from your graciousness. And
everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d
like to know. Reach me at

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Week” and the “Sunday Negotiation Insight” click

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“This Is What Happens When You Abuse Compliments” –
Negotiation Insight
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