On the other hand, once while flying back from a successful European trip, George H. W. Bush took the time to personally write 40 notes of appreciation to various members of his presidential staff. When the aides compared the various notes, they discovered that every single one of them was different. And each one specifically mentioned what the recipient had done to help make the trip a success. To me, the sheer volume of notes might call in question their sincerity and devalue the worth of any one of them. But I'll bet each of those 40 people appreciated his or her note. And most of them probably still have them.
Tactic: Compliment people who deserve it. Always individualize the compliment with specifics. When the same compliment is given repeatedly to several different people, it rings false--even when it isn't.
Tip: Compliment the action not the individual's character.
"Gee, you're so intelligent," is general, may be embarrassing and can sound insincere. But, "Darn, that was a smart idea you had in the meeting today," rings true, and it's less likely to make the recipient self-conscious.
Still, as Elton Mayo discovered in Hawthorne, Illinois, back in 1924, any attention is better no attention.
Barry Maher speaks, writes and consults on management, leadership, communications, motivation and sales. His book, Filling the Glass has been cited by Today's Librarian as "[One of] The Seven Essential Popular Business Books." His other books include the completely-updated third edition of Getting the Most from Your Yellow Pages Advertising and No Lie: Truth Is the Ultimate Sales Tool. Contact him and/or sign up for his free newsletter at www.barrymaher.com, 760-962-9872.