We can pay compliments, but we can't spend them

I work with people from a huge variety of professions; chefs, CEOs of tech start ups, real estate agents, authors, app developers, management consultants, market researchers, teachers and so many more. It's truly a joy for me to be involved in so many people's lives and careers.

Recently, I've been working with an actor who has been looking to excel in his auditions. For me, there are a lot of similarities between auditions, interviews and first dates; it's all about building rapport with the other party and helping them see your capability and, moreover, potential. By doing this, you help people see you in their futures, whether that might be a TV show or film, in a job or career or in a personal relationship.

First impressions are a fact of life, whether they are right or not. And first impressions are derived not just from how the person looks and acts (etc.) when you first meet them, but they are also shaped by the observer's own preconceptions and filtered by his/her unconscious mind based on a wide range of factors (which could be a whole post for another time).

Having appropriate confidence in your own abilities will help you shine on a day to day basis. Going beyond "appropriate confidence" may come across as arrogance and I'd suggest that should be avoided because it won't help your cause.

Further, some people are scientifically programmed to look for external validation of their skills, capability, whether they did a good job and so on, while others are programmed to look internally for that validation.

Regardless of programming, most people like receiving compliments though there's something very important to note about compliments; we can all pay them, and receive them, but we can't spend them.

Following a job interview, audition or first date, it's great to hear compliments and get feedback, but the aim of the game is to get to the next level and if we're not being offered a follow up audition, interview, or date, then compliments are still nice but are somewhat empty.

Compliments have no true value outside of how they make us feel. It's not like you can take the compliments you've received, head on down to your favorite store and go wild in the aisles!

I'd rather progress to the next stage of an interview/audition process (or better yet, be offered the job) than be given a hundred compliments that I can do nothing with aside from feeling good.

When the compliments are coming thick and fast, why not put yourself out there and find a way to ask how that links to the goal you were seeking, for example, "thank you for complimenting my ability to do X; I'm interested in how I can use that to help you in this role - perhaps we can discuss that further now".

Making the connection between the compliment and your intended goal (which should be aligned to the needs of the other party) will help you turn a nice (though not particularly useful) compliment into a useful tool for successfully closing the deal.

So what does this mean for us on a day to day basis?

  • Know the end game when you're going in to an interview, audition or date
  • Have confidence in your own abilities; this will shine through and help the person you're meeting with to see what you can do for them
  • Avoid over-confidence that can come across as arrogance
  • Work carefully to build rapport with the person or people you're meeting with. This will greatly enhance your success in the meeting. For more information on how to do this, get in touch using the details below
  • Enjoy compliments when they're given to you, but realize that in and of themselves, they hold no true value and what you're looking to do is to get to the next level or secure the job, role or next date
  • Find a way to use the compliments to help you achieve your end game; this turns them into a truly valuable commodity

As always, feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions, comments or want to discuss further. I'm happy to help!

Rob Whitfield is the CEO and Founder of One Brit, No Bull, a corporate training and coaching company based in Los Angeles and operating worldwide. Rob can be contacted here or on (+1) 518 9NO BULL.

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As well as being an experienced management consultant and energetic public speaker, Rob Whitfield is a certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified Master Coach and a certified Master Practitioner of Hypnotherapy and Time Line Therapy. No Bull.