Jim Burson blog; Monday Coaching Connection: Pay me a compliment, please; www.JimBurson.com

Receiving a compliment is a gift to the giver.

As I watched the Ryder Cup this weekend I was amazed at the great talent on both the U.S. team and the European team. But what I’ll carry with me is their civility under great pressure. They battled each other for three days and competed fiercely, yet there was great respect and a gentlemanly way in which the players competed with each other.

When the competition ended the Europeans handled their loss with class and dignity that seems so difficult to do in other sports. Compliments flowed both ways during the awards ceremony. They competed like true gentlemen of the game of golf.

It is one thing to compliment someone for their play after you have beaten them. It is quite another when you have been beaten.

Is this because golf is a game of the individual? Is it because golf is a game in which “doing right” is emphasized? Or is it that golfers are taught how to behave at a young age? Whatever the cause or causes, I personally want to compliment both teams, not so much on how they played, but on how splendidly they handled themselves emotionally – with class and character.

The two sides of compliments

The two sides of complimenting were very evident. After Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia battled for 18 holes in the singles match that ended in a tie, both were understandably disappointed. But both men complimented the other on their play and on the class with which they competed. I wanted both players to win, but it was fitting that it ended in a tie.

After watching the championship and feeling USA pride, I wondered how my own compliments have been going. I am not great at handling being complimented. I tend to downplay the other person’s nice words. For example, I hit a great shot in golf this week and my playing partner said, “That was superb!” My quick response was, “I didn’t quite get it square.” Instead I wish I had said, “Thank you. I feel happy. That was one of my best shots.”

Receiving compliments is a skill and art that we all need to develop, because it helps the other person feel good too. Doesn’t it feel great to see a happy look on someone’s face when you say something nice to them?

I thought a lot about how I had a driving, pushing, yelling style of coaching basketball. I needed to compliment the players more. Every player needs to be lifted: the starters, the second teamers and the bench! Genuine, lifting compliments can bring a team, a coach and the players together.

[Tweet “It’s hard to pay the price, but easy to pay a compliment.”]

A simple comment to a bench player might be:

“Thanks for your support. You are positive and supportive and that contributes to us playing well.”

To the parent of that player:

“Your son is working hard in practice, he is very supportive on the bench and he makes a big impact on the team. Thanks for supporting him and the team.”

Don’t forget your family, either, especially your spouse:

“I so appreciate your support. It’s fantastic to have a spouse who cares so much.”

Words can lift. A note of caution – words can also hold people back, so be careful with your words.

Jim Burson blog; Monday Coaching Connection: Pay me a compliment, please; www.JimBurson.comHow well do you receive compliments?

How well do you give compliments?

Write back and tell me about it.

Be like the Ryder Cup players. Reach out with class and character. Give genuine compliments as often as you can.

Thanks for reading my blog this week. You are the best!

[Tweet “You can pay someone a compliment but you must give it away freely!”]

USA is the greatest country in the world!


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