Sunday, December 31, 2006
Step Five: The Big Guns
"You Are the Most Fascinating Person I've Ever Met" Each time you discharge an obvious compliment, your next shot loses power. Like they were Confederate dollars, your Quarry begins to devalue conspicuous compliments. You can use empathy, make approval noises, and imply your praise early with your Quarry. But save up for the killer compliment. What is the killer compliment? It's not, "Gee, I like your tie." A killer compliment is a knock-'em dead, on-target, outright compliment which takes your Quarry's breath away. In my communications seminars, I trick people into killer complimenting another participant. Early in my program, I ask the participants to get to know another participant by chatting for a few minutes. Later in the program, I instruct them to close their eyes and recall one outstanding positive quality about the person they spoke with. I say, "Not anything you would necessarily tell the other person, but some very private positive observation about them." Perhaps their conversational partner had a wonderfully warm smile or there was a spiritual air about them. "The quality can be physical," I tell them, "or it can concern their personality." Everybody has at least one good quality. Then I say, "OK, now, open your eyes, and tell them what you were thinking." "What, tell them?" They are in shock. "Actually tell the other person the private thought I was having about them?" "Yes! Tell them." I remind them that I said to think of a compliment that they would not necessarily tell the other person. They give each other killer compliments, and the result is a joy to watch. After the first wave of nervous laughter sweeps the crowd, smiles and warm blushes break out all over. Friendships are forming right and left. Everybody enjoys receiving their killer compliment, and practically everybody develops warm feelings toward the person who gave it to them. What kinds of killer compliments have they just heard? Lovely sentiments like: "You have a terrific sense of humor," "What penetrating deep brown eyes you have," "I thought you were a dancer. You move so gracefully," ''I noticed your hands. They're like a pianist's," "I sense an aesthetic quality about you,'' or "I love your teeth!" "What Does Giving a Killer Compliment Do for Me?" I'm sure you've figured out by now that giving the killer compliment is not an entirely altruistic act. You receive a rich reward yourself when you candidly blurt one out. Recently, at a party, I was chatting with an accountant, a dull one at that. (Apologies to accountants everywhere who must battle the unfair dull, pencil-pushing, green-eyeshades-wearing, number-crunching image!) As I was trying to break away from the tedious accountant, he looked deeply into my eyes and said, "Leil"—he used my name—"you are the most fascinating woman I've ever met." Whoa! Stop! Time out! My knees got weak. (Did I sense a little PEA shooting through my veins?) "Who is this man?" I thought. Suddenly the fellow became very interesting. In fact, I wound up having a lunch date with him the next week. As it turned out, the chap truly was dull, and the relationship went nowhere. But his killer compliment gave our relationship the best possible shot it had. TECHNIQUE #40: THE KILLER COMPLIMENT Search for a unique quality in your Quarry, one so deep that most people wouldn't comment on it. Then look your Quarry straight in the eye, use your Quarry's name, and knock his or her socks off with the killer compliment. Just as black-belt karate grand masters register their fists as lethal weapons, killer complimenters should register their tongues as lethal weapons in making the kill with their prey. The killer compliment is such a mighty missile, it should come with a user's manual. The user's manual would tell you to shoot out your killer compliment in one strong, sharp sentence, eye-ball to eyeball. If it goes on too long, you'll embarrass your Quarry. Deliver your killer compliment upon parting, as it will leave your Quarry speechless and only able to stammer, "Oh, gosh, thanks." (Don't worry, he or she will be back for more.) Obviously, don't give more than one killer compliment to your Quarry in a given month. Otherwise, you come across as obsequious and pandering. As in all compliments, make sure it is about something the recipient is proud of. One time I was in a small play in which I portrayed eight different characters. I smugly thought, "What a flexible actress I am." The least impressive role, in my opinion, was when I portrayed a department store mannequin. In that skit, another actor did all the performing while he carried me around the stage like a frozen corpse. Sometimes a gushing audience member would come up to me after the show, grab my hand, and say "Oh, I loved you in that mannequin scene." How I hated that! Do you believe I developed hostile feelings against such well-meaning flatterers? Make sure your praise supports your Quarry's self-image. Otherwise it backfires. For example, if you say to an actor, "It's wonderful how you memorized all those lines," or, to a dancer, "You looked so pretty in that costume," you have actually insulted their performances. Your well-intended praise goes kerplunk, and kerplunk compliments do nothing to ignite love. Armed with these nine ego-massaging techniques, go forth now and capture your Quarry. Before using them, however, you must ask yourself one final question: "How susceptible is my particular Quarry to praise?" Let's explore that.