After Hours

How do you handle compliments?

How do you handle compliments?

Strange question, isn't it? Believe it or not, however, you may get compliments from time to time, especially if you've been following the advice from bloggers here.  

I've been thinking about this issue over the past few days, in preparing my wife for her business trip to Beijing.  Each time I had a question for Continental Airlines, I reached a "live" person only seconds after dialing them.  The final time, while driving her to Newark Liberty International Airport, I had a question about insurance for checked baggage.  Again, a representative answered within seconds of my pressing the key.  Before I even asked my question, I complimented her, saying "Every time I've called Continental this week, I've received a live person almost instantly.  I really appreciate that, because it makes things so convenient."  The representative, I believe, almost fainted, but quickly regained her composure, and said, "Thank you, I will pass that on to my supervisor."  We then continued with our discussion.

She did it right, in my view.  Contrast that reaction with these two other, wrong ways:

- When I was about seven, I was at a church function with my (now deceased) mother, and people there were complimenting me on how well-behaved I was, and I answered them.  However, as we were driving home, my mother said to me, "Calvin, the next time people compliment you, don't say to them, 'I know.'"

- Several years ago, I called the main number of a major business publication.  I wanted to send my compliments to one of their reporters for her outstanding coverage of a particular issue.  As soon as I reached a person at that number and gave him my request, he gave me this response: "Sorry, we don't pass on compliments.  You'll have to call her yourself.  Here's the telephone number — in Mexico."

Compliments, like four-leaf clovers, can be rare.  Take advantage of each one.  Don't sound like a jerk, like I did, by saying "I know."  Don't frustrate a person who wants to deliver a compliment, like the publication did.  The easiest thing is simply to say, as the Continental person did, "Thanks."  I sometimes say, in addition, "That's kind of you," or even, "I hope you can tell my boss." 

How often do you receive compliments in your job?

PS. There's no insurance for checked baggage.  The Continental person said that if a problem occurred, we would simply file a report at the destination airport. 

About Calvin Sun

Calvin Sun is an attorney who writes about technology and legal issues for TechRepublic.

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