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Light up the lives of your colleagues by paying them the ultimate compliment

Everyone loves a compliment. Even a simple thank you from a colleague can have a huge positive impact on your day.

From a general acknowledgement, to recognition of a specific task, there’s just not enough of this in most organisations. When was the last time someone said thanks to you at work?

Hopefully the last time you said thank you to a colleague wasn’t long ago?

If you don’t thank or compliment people at work often, then you should you either stop working with incompetent numpties, or start showing some gratitude. Did you know it not only benefits the person being thanked but also the person giving the thanks?

So saying thank you would be a great place to start, but if you already do this quite often, you might just be ready to up your game.

In order to have an even greater, lasting impact you need to choose your words and tailor them to the individual you are talking to.  You may already be aware that there are certain themes that seem to resonate with certain people.


In my limited experience of life I’ve noticed incredible reactions to saying the right thing to the right person. Finding the words that spark mass enthusiasm doesn’t happen often, but with a little effort and attention you should be able to find the words that trigger the best reaction in colleagues. The magic words…

Sometimes you can link this with the role the person does:

  1. rather than telling a developer that they write decent code, try telling them that they have a brain as big as a rocket scientist

  2. rather than telling a business analyst that they are diligent, tell them that they remind you of an investigative journalist with the level of detail they drill into

  3. tell a tester that they are are thorough as a forensic inspector

  4. a people manager that they are self less

  5. a project manager that they are your go to guru (in the relevant area) and show great empathy to the delivery teams they work with, whilst always keeping the customer at the heart of what they do

  6. a user experience designer that they have helped you create some fantastic mental models and their service design principles are outstanding

  7. a web designer that they are an incredible artist

  8. a copywriter that they have an amazing natural instinct for the right language to use for the right situation and the right customers

You get the idea. Also if you really take time to get to know your colleagues you will have a sense for what their triggers are beyond the role that they do. There will be other traits that they show that you can acknowledge, praise, or comment on.

And do you know the real beauty of sharing these magic words?

If you tell someone this is how you view them, they will be suprised, delighted, but best of all they will start to consciously try to live up to this description.

They will become more diligent, more creative, more self less.

You will also become a more alert and attentive colleague, always looking for positive qualities in others and opportunities to tell them. Win:Win!

But the key caveat is to not overuse the magic words, and to save them for those that deserve it. If you go around telling everyone how wonderful they are all the time, you will lose some credibility and may even come across as fake.

But picking the right moment, picking the right words, and by sharing them with a colleague you won’t just brighten their day, you will light up their life.

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