the middles p. kim bui 1
the middles p. kim bui 1

When Is A Compliment Insincere?

By P. Kim Bui What makes a compliment insincere in the workplace? Instead of just offering them for the sake of it, putting some thought into your words could have a positive impact on workplace morale. Here's how to properly compliment an employee.

I really like…

I’ve been thinking about compliments lately. They are some of the simplest things you can do to help improve someone’s feeling of self worth a work, but there’s inherent issues. What if someone doesn’t really deserve a compliment, but you have given everyone else one? When is a compliment insincere? Or kind of rude?

Praise with action and with words
If someone’s done a good job with a project and taking the reigns, the answer might be giving them praise, but it might also be giving them the training opportunity they’ve been asking for, or a different role in their next project. Reward as well as praise. Acts of trust can be as small as saying “I don’t need to review that document, you did a great job last time, I trust you” and as big as giving someone a large responsibility.

Public vs. private
There is worth in praising people in front of others. It makes some people feel better to know that you’re so proud of them that you want to show others. Of course, some kinds of praise (growth after difficulty, for example) are better given in private.

Be specific
Leader should give lots and lots of praise, but there’s no use for praise just to give praise. Don’t say you liked that story. Say you liked that story because the writing was really well done and paired with visuals. Being specific shows that you’re paying attention to the details.

Remember, subscribe to The Middles newsletter, delivered once a week:

About the author

P. Kim Bui

P. Kim Bui is the editor-at-large for NowThis News, focusing on original, social reporting and breaking news. Prior to NowThis, she was deputy managing editor for, a digital media startup specializing in social journalism. Her career has focused on leading breaking news initiatives and new storytelling forms for local, national and global audiences.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Check for errors 160x600 1