Compliment people in front of people.

John Maxwell gave me this advice a long time ago. But what he didn’t realize was he gave me this advice through his actions long before he gave it to me through his words.

Complimenting people publicly, especially those that are on his team, is second nature to John. He does it constantly! No matter who it is—or what role they have on the team—John is always looking for a chance to compliment them.

Recently I was with Charlie Wetzel, who has been John’s primary writer for many years. I was not surprised when Charlie started telling a story from 1995 about a time when John paid him a huge compliment. He recalled it in great detail. It was during a mentoring session that was later broadcast to thousands. This compliment came over two decades ago and it still impacts Charlie so deeply that it nearly brought him to tears!

Don’t miss this: a private compliment turned public, instantly and dramatically increases in value.

If you want to make others feel like a million bucks, master the simple skill of the genuine compliment. I believe it’s the most fundamental and straightforward way to win with people.

Why is that? I have three thoughts:

1. People want to feel worthwhile.

Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Inc. constantly drilled this into her sales team: “Everyone has a sign hanging from his neck. It says, ‘Make Me Feel Important!’ Never forget this message when working with people.” Seems to me that this principle has worked pretty well for them!

2. Compliments make people stronger.

I love this quote from author George Matthew Adams, “There are high spots in all of our lives, and most of them have come about through encouragement from someone else. I don’t care how great, how famous or how successful a man or woman may be, each hungers for applause. Encouragement is oxygen to the soul.”

3. Compliments in front of others are the most effective.

Former Commander of the warship USS Benfold, Mike Abrashoff, was credited with increasing retention rates from 28 percent to 100 percent, an unmatched mark in the Navy. Abrashoff says the key to his success was public compliments. “The commanding officer of a ship is authorized to hand out 15 medals a year. I wanted to err on the side of excess, so I passed out 115.” He later said, “There is absolutely no downside to this symbolic gesture, provided it is done sincerely without hype.”

Think about the last time you received a public compliment in the presence of people that mattered to you. How did it make you feel?

Few things can lift a person up the way a sincere, public compliment does.

Ask yourself, who can I spotlight in front of others?

And now go out and do it!


  1. […] Mark Cole: It’s Simple, But It Works! […]

  2. Milton Campbell on August 24, 2019 at 10:13 am

    Great article. This made me think about how I’m always giving compliments to my seasoned employees but I have been neglecting my new ones. It’s hard enough for them to feel like a part of the mission when they are learning how to perform the job. I will definitely be looking for more opportunities to compliment them even it’s small stuff.

  3. […] 2. John Maxwell is a major influencer in leadership and communication. Originally a pastor, he has used his experiences to develop a leadership coaching program that has helped millions of business leaders, community leaders, church leaders and other people across the globe who want to learn and grow. His blog focuses on having the mindset to lead effectively, keeping your focus, dealing with failure, motivating a team, personal growth and more. […]

  4. ZGooding on August 29, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    The right compliment at a right time, is the best compliment. Not too many, not too much.

  5. Kimberly Whitaker on October 16, 2019 at 11:04 am

    Sincere compliments really do go a long way. I find that we often think the thought, but just don’t vocalize it. The world needs more of that positive energy to be said aloud!! Love this!

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