Tag Archives: communication

Praise – Making people feel valued is the most genuine way to secure their loyalty.


So what is the big deal about praise?

Praise pleases people. The bottom line is (ultimately) that we all feel better about what we are doing if someone notices – somehow it makes it more worthwhile. Praise shows appreciation and that makes a big difference. It’s a key motivator and costs nothing.

Let me give you a classic example: If you are a mum like me, you probably feel like some of the domestic chores that are all part and parcel of having a family are so insanely dull and yet nobody ever comes home and says “Ooh, the kitchen is nice and tidy!” or “Thanks for making our home look so nice on a Friday”. It’s self-explanatory and yet just a kiss would make all the difference wouldn’t it?

You don’t need to ‘spread it on thick’ (exaggerate). That can make people feel uncomfortable and most people see right through it any way . Finding the right balance between ignoring someone’s talents, efforts or personality traits and overdoing it on the compliment front comes naturally for some and less so for others.

Like anything, practice makes perfect and if you are the type of person that would rather run a marathon in the rain than give a compliment or praise someone, the chances are that your relationships suffer as a result. What a shame, keep reading.

So what can I say?

The Americans would say “Great Job!”, “Awesome!” but to the Brits, this would sound patronising, in the UK we might talk to a Kindergarten child that way but not to an adult.

Same language, culturally, a world apart.

Try these for size, say them out loud or in your head

“You must have worked hard on that”
“I appreciate your support today, thanks”
“It looks like you have spent a fair bit of time preparing for that, the time investment certainly paid off.”
“I loved how you handled that guy’s question about…”

Psychologists claim that positive reinforcement works better than punishment. Thank goodness for that! The carrot works better than the stick in other words and after all, we are adults. Punishments for adults just seems so rediculous to me.

IDIOM “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink

Meaning that you can give someone an opportunity to do something, but you cannot force them to do it if they do not want to. If they don’t see why there is no guarantee that they’ll want to do it.

With compliments and praise,  it is the same. If you try to make someone feel appreciated or a valued member of the team but they don’t think you mean it, then it won’t have any impact on them and they will not respect you, no matter what you say to them.

Don’t worry about making grammar mistakes.

You really don’t need to worry about getting the grammar right, if your intentions are honest and sincere, the words will be much more important that the grammar or pronunciation.

Coco’s Cultural Insight

I tend to make mistakes with du and Sie in Germany, I understand the rules for it but find it really difficult to be consistent with implementing this. I can manage a couple of sentences but then I go off the rails and make mistakes. It annoys me but evidently not enough to change it, so what’s going on? When I talk about this to my clients or friends they often say “Oh don’t worry, people realise from your personality that you wouldn’t want to offend someone”. Well I certainly hope so.

Confession Time

To be totally honest though,  and I must confess that I thought hard about deleting this part deep down I have been raised (in the UK) to treat everyone with respect. For me, respect has to be earned, whereas here in Germany it is often determined by your age and superiority. I have huge respect for people that are brilliant at what they do or obviously older members of the community but I have serious problems saying Sie to someone who is clearly incompetent, rude, obnoxious and less qualified than I am. I think the Germans do to actually.

This mindset is something culturally ingrained, so I suspect that it is this innermost belief that subconsciously holds me back. You can take a horse to drink (teach them the rules) but you can’t make them drink (obey the rules perfectly). I am working on it! Honest!

Perfectionist Workaround

If you feel the need to get praise grammatically correct, why not write a short handwritten note instead?  It can be a card or letter, (any excuse Corinne!) or it can be something as simple and understatement as a Post-it note. There is something about a compliment in writing that makes people feel special. You can cheat when it comes with the help of ‘grammarly.com’ via Windows. Alternatively, you can cheat with one of the following:

“I noticed how you helped that customer today in a wheelchair, you were so kind and supportive, exemplary customer service, it was a pleasure to watch.”

Or better still, make it more of a casual dialogue, like this…

“That client was firing on all cylinders today wasn’t he?”
“Oh yeah, you mean the guy with the broken cable? Yeah, something got his goat all right (smiling)
“You were so patient, that’s incredible, I find it so hard to control my temper when a customer is being as rude as he was. How do you do that?”
“I dunno, perhaps he was just having a bad day” (Trying to make light of it)
“Well I thought that you handled him brilliantly/well/very professionally”
“Oh, cheers” (goes away feeling kind of proud too even though he might not have thought much about it until now)

Notice how this was specific, you mentioned exactly which behaviour or action you were impressed by and ASAP “today”, don’t make people wait for their regular appraisal, the impact is greater if you ‘strike while the iron is hot’. The sooner you mention something the greater the impact.

Letting someone overhear you praising them is also a great way to praise someone, as too is introducing someone in a flattering way. “Meet Caroline, she is the brains behind our marketing and she’s brilliant at it, she is one of the most organised people I know!”

So how does the brain react to praise?

Now we are getting to my own way of thinking, the neurologists think about praise in terms of dopamine, which is released into the brain when we hear something that we like, or achieve a goal, it’s a powerful chemical. Isn’t that amazing that you don’t have to find a dealer, you can just make someone feel good, to give them a healthy fix.

Low dopamine levels can have a negative impact on your motivation, make you feel exhausted, trigger addictive behaviour, mood swings and memory loss. I think you’ll agree that it makes sense to learn how to increase dopamine naturally.

Here are some dopomine boosting foods that you can eat.

More about the dopamine building strategies here 

Praise as a Talent Retention Tactic.

So if praise is so important,  then surely the easiest way to retain your best talent is to stroke their ego with praise. No need to go overboard, but believe me, a few kind words about performance, go a long way.

But it is not just about saying nice things is it? If it was that easy we could just sign up for regular phone calls like the ones from AwesomenessReminders.com, Ultimately it is not enough to be told that you are good, hard working, efficient, great with clients or a good presenter, you need to really believe it and that is a matter of trust and respect.

That’s a different story altogether.

Try this experiment

Check out the Leadership AdvanEdge Podcast, there John Kenworthy talks about how to earn respect and he had an incredible experiment that I have already done.

The Podcast Details are:

How do I leverage my Influencing Style? The Trust/Respect Matrix


I reckon you should try it out for yourself. Just make a note of all of the people that you would like to respect you more. Perhaps your list includes
a) some existing or potential clients that don’t seem to have as much faith in your abilities as you would like them to have or
b) someone you work with who doesn’t seem to believe that you have their best interests at heart or
c) a member of staff that seems hell-bent or determined on doing things his own way rather than learning from someone who has been there and got the T-shirt or has more experience.

So next to each name, make a note about what you respect or appreciate about them.

Give and you shall receive

The chances are that the names of the people that you would like to have more respect from have nothing next to their name. That’s not a coincidence.

There is a fair deal of reciprocity involved in trust and respect. Have a good hard think about what it is about them that you admire. Perhaps you are in awe of the fact that they keep overtime to a minimum for the sake of their family, or that they have a tidy desk. Whatever it is, find a way of mentioning it. You don’t need to make a ceremony out of it.  Just mention it. If you are not in the habit of doing this, you might get a suspicious look,  but just mentioning it in a genuine way is enough to make someone sit up and take notice. No buts, ifs etc, just the positive mention, smile and that’s it.

Keep it simple and sincere.

The chances are that they will start taking more notice of you and observe you a little closer, they might want to make a better impression and try to return a compliment. Now the aim of the game is not ‘feel-good ping pong’, it is about picking up on everybody’s talents. It is mission critical that your words are genuine, otherwise, you’re heading for disaster. It can be something small or self-explanatory, it all counts.

You will notice that people will appreciate being on your radar and will want to stay on your radar.

So how give praise effectively and authentically?

The top two tips I can share are to be specific and do it as soon as possible. Relating your praise to a particular situation and not just saying good job, but going deeper, makes it more sincere.

By describing what you liked about a specific behavior goes the extra mile. After all it is the impact of that behavior that counts , particularly if it had an impact on the team.

The Five Love Languages

Now those of you that heard my Facebook Live session this Tuesday (28th March) will have heard me talking about the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.As I read, I realised that a lot of it is very transferable to business and leadership.

The five love languages are:

Words of Affirmation (today’s topic)
Physical Touch (clearly something you have to be careful about in a professional situation but even this can be useful if that person is a touchy person themselves)
Receiving Gifts The person at work that puts little chocolates on desks at Easter or Christmas, or brings in cake will relate to this
Quality Time These people will appreciate you taking time to really listen to them and perhaps eat lunch together or go for a walk together
Acts of Service (or little favours)

“If your deepest pain is the critical, judmental words of your spouse, (or boss/colleaugues) then perhaps your love languge is words of affirmation” Five Love Languages”

Who is it in your working environment who struggles with accepting criticism? Perhaps you need to focus your praise efforts on them first.

I won’t go into much detail because the book is a totally worthwhile read and I don’t want to butcher Gary’s theory but you get the idea. We all feel loved or appreciated as a result of different actions. Remember that just because you like to give presents, the person you are giving to might actually be hoping that you’ll just spend some time with them or do them a few more little favours. Read the book. Adapt it to your professional relationships and report back.

Boost your Concentration

If you would like more information about how to boost your concentration then I can highly recommend this article froma blog that I have a soft spot for www.healthambition.com.

soft spot …a sentimental fondness or affection

To summarise about praise then…

So when it comes to praising,  be genuine, don’t wait, be specific and start earning respect by noticing the good things in the people, not just at appraisal time but peppered through your professional life. Little and often is the name of the game.

Praise Giving Tips
Be authentic

Why not come into the Facebook group “Professional English for Women”, where we will be putting together an exhaustive list for a range of different situations.

Facebook "Professional English for Women" - where we get to practice our English

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On a personal note:

When I was younger I used to write a lot of poetry – a few lines telling them what I thought it was about them that made them so special. I would try to write one for my friends or family when it was their birthday, (A word of caution, once you start this all of your friends will expect one, so be careful)

I’m no professional so the words didn’t always flow but the appreciation for those poems was touching and inspired me to write more. When I moved to Germany, I still had the same urge, no doubt they are a grammatical minefield but you can tell that people are really touched by the hugs and sometimes tears.

A hand written note has a huge impact, try it out and let me know how it made you feel to write it (a good excuse to get out a beautiful fountain pen) and how it was received. You can do this for a friend, partner, your children, a colleague or a neighbour.

Children love little notes, why not write them little English notes, using words that they will easily understand.

“I love it when you play so nicely with your sister”.

“Thank you for eating all of your salad, I know that you don’t like peppers much.”

“Grandma said that you called her last night, I think that really made her week, that was so thoughtful!”

Power up with Personal Boundaries

Setting, Communicating and Keeping your Personal Boundaries

This week we’ll be talking about setting your own personal boundaries, how to tell people politely but assertively what your boundaries are and how to stick to those boundaries for your personal health and ultimately the profitability of your company.

A boundary is another word for border.  So imagine a farm for a moment, surrounded by a big hedge. That is the farm’s boundary.  If you were to go over the boundaries of the farm you would be trespassing.

We can set our own personal boundaries, with our partners, clients, staff and suppliers for instance, so that we do not feel threatened, bullied or restricted.

Do you respect your own boundaries though? 


Limits only work when they are kept to,

flexibility weakens boundaries and ignoring your own boundaries, KILLS them. Click To Tweet


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So what are personal boundaries?

Personal boundaries are those guidelines, rules or limits that we create for ourselves to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards us. It also shapes the way that we respond when someone goes or tries to go past those limits.

We need to know, communicate and insist upon personal boundaries for the good of our health and business success

Most entrepreneurs are in business to help their ideal client to overcome a problem and so it is in our nature to want to do just that. But we all have personal standards, unique rules about how far people can go with us and we need to be clear about those, especially if you work from home.

Everyone has their own unique values, rules, procedures and preferences. Only you can know what you need.

Perhaps as entrepreneurs, we sometimes allow our personal boundaries to be abused because we all started small and there was a time when most of us were pretty desperate to get our businesses off the ground. It’s my guess that not setting and maintaining boundaries is just a bad habit we need to say goodbye to.
Starting today.

I want to help you set, communicate and uphold those boundaries. We can’t run a business successfully if we are spending 80% of our time doing free and cheap stuff and only 20% doing the profitable activities that solve the problems of our paying customers, after all that is what keeps them happy and coming back for more.

There are three main types of boundaries that you should set for yourself.

  • Financial Boundaries.
  • Time Boundaries
  • Communication Boundaries

Financial Boundaries

Being taken advantage of financially, makes you feel undervalued and not appreciated. Don’t let people push you into a corner where you are just breaking even.

Financial boundaries include for example what you give away for free and which of your services are paid services. You’re in this to make a profit honey!

You wouldn’t even work for a charity for free, would you?

In my case, I have a free blog, a newsletter that rolls my blogs into a lesson, and plenty of advice, tips and information on social media plus a free Facebook Page. That’s where people are invited to come in and find out a bit more about who I am, how I work and if I could be the right coach for you or consultant for your organisation.

Everything else is a paid for service. Simple.

Just like you, I have people wanting to ‘just’ pick my brains, but if they do that, I have learned to stick to my guns and point people to my free offerings, (the newsletter, blog and Facebook Page). If people have a question, I get them to post it on my facebook page. That way at least my gems of wisdom can help someone else too.

Some people are really persistent, but you have to hold your ground. Just keep repeating yourself as if you are not picking up on their hint for free help or a discount at all.

What about people that ask for a discount
Just say “No!”

People pay what they think something is worth. You do it too!

Let’s talk about clothes for a minute, any excuse hey?
Think about the last thing that you bought really cheaply. Perhaps it was a t shirt or a pair of shoes. Got it?

Now think about something you really had to be careful about buying, something more expensive, perhaps a gorgeous pair of boots (yes another) but ones that you just slip your toe in and feel amazing as you zip them up.

Which do you appreciate the most? For me and for most of us, the most expensive things are those that we value most. I love a bargain from time to time, but there’s nothing quite like treating yourself is there?

The more people invest financially, the more they are likely to invest in terms of commitment and support, meaning better results for them and a better reputation for you.

Waiting Workaround for Wimps

If you are a total wimp then make them wait. Most people are too impatient to wait so they find a workaround. So tell them

“ok but it won’t be until next week/month I am afraid, I’m just too busy right now, if it can wait that long then sure.”

It sends a clear signal that you put your clients first. Perhaps they’ll even want to be one of those treasured clients. it will certainly make them appreciate your time more and the chances are that they will found a workaround or wait.

If you have real problems charging what you are worth, then I can hand on heart recommend Denise Duffield-Thomas from LuckyBitch.com, here is one of her recent videos that in fact inspired me to write this post…

Time Boundaries

These can be a lot more subtle.


For instance, I used to have a client that used to wait until the very end of the session and mention an (of course very important) question.

Now if it was one off, then no big deal right? But this started happening most weeks. I was the newest freelance trainer on the block, so I was broke and inexperienced. I was also desperate to be liked and recommended and he probably knew that. (Do you remember those desperation vibes that you first used to give off, when you went solo?)

Now of course, if it was genuinely important, he would have mentioned it right at the beginning of the session, or even sent it to me in advance by email, (many of my clients do that, meaning that I can be perfectly prepared). That way we can really do their communication task justice by taking the time and focus, to tackle it professionally and thoroughly. After all,  I genuinely prefer it when my clients bring something from the day to day running of their business to work on, that ensures relevancy. But waiting until the very end of the session was disrespectful of my time and if you let clients continue like that, then you are accepting that lack of respect. If you do it for long enough, they will come to expect it and that could get really uncomfortable.

. It did. It was. But when I mentioned it, it didn’t create bad feelings, he turned out to be one of my most loyal and long standing clients. Phew.

Remember: You are the expert and you deserve to get paid for that expertise.EVEN IF YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO.

If they could do it themselves, you wouldn’t be there. Your talent is something they either cannot or don’t want to do.

So what do you say?

“Sorry, but there isn’t enough time left to cover that properly this time, we can certainly look at that in the next session” If they still insist (and some people are extraordinarily thick skinned) then invite them to sign up for a paid service. “Why not sign up for a power hour, I’ll send you the link”

Remember, saying yes to someone that isn’t prepared to pay, is in effect saying no to a paying customer or client or perhaps even to your children, hubby or SELF.

What about people calling out of hours? It is the same thing, set your working hours, put it on your website and then stick to them. Between you and I, you can be working, but you don’t need to be available out of hours. Be careful though, if you are engaging in social media during those times, you are abusing your own boundaries,  it makes the impression of you being ‘available/working”.

Schedule your posts strategically via Buffer or Hootsuite for instance and put those devices out of reach, so that you can unwind. We all need downtime and we owe it to our families and partners too.

Not even Obama, the former president of America, used to look at his phone until after breakfast! We all have a right to personal boundaries. Set, Tell & Protect

Communication Boundaries

We all deserve to be spoken to with respect, whether it is our children, our partner, our clients or our neighbours. You can be assertive and respectful, polite and direct.

Communication boundaries are about how people talk to you. So for example, here in Germany, you have to accept that there is a formal and informal way of speaking to people and there are rules about who you can address in which way.

Standing up for yourself, doesn’t mean that less people will like you but it does mean that more people will respect and appreciate you. Remember that when you do have time for them, what you do will be really helpful and supportive,  not a compromise.

The ranting client

If you have a slightly chaotic client who tends to lose his temper when he is running up against schedule, this could affect communication. Especially if they expect you to compensate for those organisational shortcomings. If they talk to you, or worse still, shout at you in a tone that makes you feel uncomfortable, anxious, taken for granted or reluctant to help him, STOP.

You need to tell them either immediately, if you feel that you can have an adult conversation with them at that moment in time, or wait until the dust has settled and schedule a meeting. Do it face to face if you can. Nobody has to accept being spoken to like that and this too is overstepping the mark in terms of your boundaries.

The customer is king, but you don’t have to spoken to like dirt.


Remember, you are the boss! Absolutely nobody has the right to speak to us in a way that makes us feel uncomfortable, even clients.


If you feel uncomfortable with other people swearing, say so.

If someone has slipped into the informal language that makes you feel on edge, mention it.

Why do you have to set, communicate and insist on these boundaries?

The chances are pretty high that people that push any or all of these boundaries, are the very people that zap our time, energy and patience. These are normally the clients that consume 80% of your time, then pay late or whinge about price increases. In contrast, the people that respect your professionalism will be happy to pay what you are worth. These wonderful clients are the ones that deserve your time and attention, not the trouble makers.

Those of you with children will be able to relate. Think about a situation when one child is acting up and getting all of the attention, and the other(s) are being good and yet ignored. We have all slipped into that, we’re cannot be great parents all of the time, we all have limits, but do you see? There are parallels.

Don’t let these barrier pushers dominate your time.

Let them go to the competition and abuse their personal boundaries instead. You don’t need people like that on your client list, so create your boundaries, communicate them and stick to them. You’ll feel less stressed, you’ll have more wonderful clients, you’ll love your business more and you’ll feel in control.


So in the Byte Sized English Bootcamp group on Facebook we’ll be talking about what your personal boundaries are, how to communicate them and how to keep to them when the going gets tough.

So what you need to ask yourself is not only what your boundaries should be, but why?

If someone pushes your boundaries, what are the implications for your productivity, your patience, time with family, availability to your own clients etc. So get really clear about why you need these boundaries. (Otherwise you just won’t keep to them!)

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Once you have subscribed….I’ll See you in the SECRET Byte Sized English Bootcamp, where those that are serious about improving their English will be carving out time to discuss the article above.