Compliments of Chiot's Run via Flickr

Compliments of Chiot’s Run via Flickr

As managers, it’s imperative to master two modes of communication: these include compliments and apologies. Emotional Intelligence implies cognizance of the impact we have on other people. We can “improve the silence” by recognizing exemplary efforts, and through making a sincere attempt to mend fences.


In Non-violent Communication, Rosenberg suggests incorrect delivery of compliments can be considered violent interaction. “Compliments,” particularly from a tier above, are often administered as appraisals – when they should be phrased in a manner that reflects gratitude to the recipient. E.g., instead of saying “You did that well,” a more civil alternative would express (1) the action that contributed to our well-being; (2) the wonderful feelings created by fulfillment of those needs; and (3) the particular needs of ours that have been fulfilled.”

Instead of the previous judgment call, a boss who is truly ministering to his/her employees might say the following: “I felt proud when you represented our division last week. Your presentation had a tremendous impact on the conference participants, one which I’m sure they’ll remember for a long time.” This expression comes across as genuine and empathic, as opposed to condescension from a managerial high horse.

The late Mary Kay Ash stated everyone is wearing an invisible sign which reads “Make me feel important.” Employers who find a way to do that will reap the benefits. Conversely, when bosses do things that empty people of esteem they need to pay recompense. Forni classifies what he terms “pseudo-apologies” as halfhearted expressions of remorse; these include sayings like “I’m sorry you feel that way,” or “I see where you’re coming from.” He suggests that true contrition should contain a sentiment which precludes trap doors, such as, “I want to apologize for yelling at you. There is no excuse for that. I can only say that it won’t happen again.” “I didn’t mean to do that” is a similar half-baked exculpatory statement.

Practice and ultimate mastery of basic EQ tenets keeps corporate wheels running smoothly. Ignoring peoples’ feelings (while putting your own first) simply gums up the works. If you truly had employees’ best interests at heart, you would consider the following: is there anyone at work to whom you owe a debt, or a measure of appreciation? I imagine either way they would welcome your presence.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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