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The Power Of Compliments


The easiest way to help people behave in a more desirable way, is to use the power of compliments. Whether it is an employee, spouse or one of your kids, the moment you introduce more compliments everything will go more smoothly

The most striking example I encountered as an NLP coach was when I was coaching a twelve year old boy. He had just moved to middle school. Before that everything was great. He did well in elementary school and had lots of fun playing football. But all of that came to a stop when he moved to the new school. His mother asked me to coach him.

When you want other people to behave more desirably, reward their good behavior by complementing it!

When I met the mother and her twelve year old son, I immediately sensed that she, as a mother, did not give too many compliments. Her attitude was: “I don’t have to tell him I love him as he knows I do”. Nevertheless, neuroscience has shown that almost all people really like to get attention, love and compliments. So I instructed her to tell her son at least three times a day that she loved him and compliment him for his efforts at school and football.

Do not hesitate to compliment

Of course, I also taught the son all the NLP techniques to feel good, make great decisions and achieve your goals that are so very popular here in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe, gradually spreading across the globe. Those NLP techniques also worked really well with him. Yet, I also strongly feel that the extra attention, love and compliments did their job. If only for the fact that I still remember the big smile on her son’s face when I instructed his mother to tell him she loved him.

The reason why compliments work, has to do with instrumental learning. With instrumental learning our brain connects our behavior and what that behavior will most likely get us.

Whenever we get what we want when we behaved in a certain way, we will do more of that behavior. That is the reason why it is hard to quit bad habits. Most of the time, the short term consequences of bad habits are positive. So when you want other people to behave more desirably, reward their good behavior by complementing it! Before you know, they like your compliments so much that they start to behave positively more and more.

This Opinion Piece was first published in the print version of SUBURB August 2019 issue.

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