There’s an old saying that “giving compliments is better than receiving.” Yet, with the pressure to be our “authentic-selves” today, the art and practice of giving compliments loss favour. I believe there is confusion and a mistake. The confusion is equating compliments with flattery, while the mistake is not utilizing our appreciation of others to its full potential.
In the coaching profession, there is a technique called appreciative inquiry that experienced coaches use with their clients. This technique is the combination of appreciation and questioning – or expressing appreciation in the form of a question.
“What experiences have inspired you the most in the past 10 years as a data scientist?”
“How does your past experience as a leader prepare you for this new role?”
“How do you do it…managing a young family while still staying on top of your team’s goals?”
As you can see, these are more than just small-talk and conversation starters. Appreciative inquiry builds rapport, trust, and more importantly helps our clients focus their attention on positive behaviours. Furthermore, the applications and outcomes go beyond the coaching practice. Imagine using appreciative inquiry in a mentoring relationship, team capacity-building workshop, creativity or problem solving challenge, conflict management, or even employee engagement and learning scenarios.
Preparation is key to maximizing the benefits of appreciative inquiry:
- Start with a curious heart and mind. We need to tap into our emotional and intellectual curiosity, thus making the switch from simply recognizing their talents to learning about their experience.
- Make the connection between what you know about the person or situation to what you want to know. How might their history and achievements support their current goals?
- Listen actively to determine how you will respond to what they share with you. What questions can you ask to encourage more uplifting stories?
Take the first step to building stronger relationships with those around you. There’s no better time than the present to show our appreciation for one another.
What’s the best compliment you can give?
Check out more blog posts in this series: Coach’s Corner.
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