Compliments v. Acknowledgements: Speaking to the Heart of Things

gold-starWhich would you rather have, a compliment or an acknowledgement?

Compliments tend to deal with externals and appearances. Acknowledgments tend to be about internal qualities you admire, and how you noticed that people demonstrated those qualities.


  • I love your hair, Joan.
  • You look great, John. Are you working out?
  • You guys have a great office here!


  • I noticed how well you supported her to get that promotion.
  • I appreciated the “leaning in” you did in that situation. It gave us a great result.
  • You were so kind and generous with him at a point where he really needed somebody on his side.

Neither is better, but acknowledgements are the backbone of The Soul of Selling. We want to speak directly to who the other person is—whether that person is a new buyer, someone considering buying, a fellow-seller, a competitor, or our mother-in-law.  When we speak from our hearts, hoping to touch another person’s soul, we’re better off with acknowledgements because they point to the other person’s inner being.

There’s nothing wrong with compliments. They feel great. Sometimes I would rather have someone tell me they liked my hair than that I was compassionate. But acknowledgment goes to a deeper level. You are saying that you saw a part of who the other person is, and that you appreciate the opportunity to be present to that.

Acknowledgement is often the very best support you can give someone. It makes them feel great, and it makes you feel even better. It’s like walking around with $1,000 bills in your pocket, giving them away from an endless supply. It takes nothing away from you, and gives people something that they cherish. It’s free to you, and incredibly valuable to them.

What is your favorite way of acknowledging people?

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    Compliments v. Acknowledgements: Speaking to the Heart of Things – The Soul of Selling

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