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How to Compliment a Colleague

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Complimenting a colleague for a job well done can distinguish you as a supportive team member while also building the morale of your co-worker. Acknowledging the efforts and contributions of another person creates a workplace dynamic in which others feel appreciated and recognized. It's crucial to keep in mind that compliments should be sincere and relevant to work. False flattery can come across as insincere and make your colleague question your motives. Also, complimenting someone that is not work-related may be inappropriate for the workplace.

Personal Message

Write your colleague a personal note or email to say congratulations on a task or assignment. For example, you might say, “Your presentation at this morning's meeting looked great. I know how much time and effort you put into it, and all of your work really shows. I think the board was impressed!” Be specific in your praise so your colleague knows you are sincere. This approach shows your colleague that she has the support of her fellow workers and that her contributions were seen as a benefit to the entire department.

Manager Commendation

Write your boss a letter complimenting your colleague’s contributions. For example: “I want to let you know that John went out of his way every day last week to help me put the final touches on our board presentation. He had some great ideas and helped me make sure everything was perfect. I really appreciate his efforts and I want to recognize him for his teamwork.”

Company or Industry Recognition

Compliment your colleague by submitting her name for a company or industry award. For example, if you have a co-worker who put together a stellar annual report, throw her name in the mix for employee of the month, or suggest to your manager that the project be submitted for a trade industry competition. This demonstrates to your colleague that others are appreciative of her efforts to make the entire company look good.

Group Announcement

Many staff and department meetings offer an opportunity for participants to make announcements and share news and information. If a colleague made a substantial contribution or went above and beyond in her efforts, recognize her in front of the group at your next formal gathering. For example: “I'd like to recognize Bob for continually troubleshooting our computers last week when we were trying to get our spreadsheets done in time for our client presentation. We’ve come to believe that there's not a single thing on a computer Bob can't fix. Everyone in accounting thanks him for his efforts.”

Inappropriate Compliments

To avoid any appearance of impropriety, use caution when issuing personal or overly-familiar compliments to colleagues, especially co-workers of the opposite sex. Complimenting a colleague on personal appearance or attire can be misconstrued as inappropriate. Be professional at all times and maintain a workplace decorum in which observations and compliments focus on work.


Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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