Awhile back, in “Persuasive Praise,”[1] I wrote about how to communicate compliments or praise in ways that best motivate people. A few days ago, I experienced first hand the power of a persuasive compliment.

This past spring, I decided the time was right to sell my house and downsize to an apartment. The housing market here in Houston was good, and I was ready to leave the property upkeep to someone else. Still, there were aspects of this move that left me less than excited. I would have to adjust to a smaller kitchen with appliances that are not designed as well as those I’m used to. It would no longer be just a few steps, under cover, from my back door to my garage. No more park-like back yard and huge picture window facing it.

Once I make a decision of this kind, I want to get it over with as soon as I can. After deciding to move in April, I had done so by late July and closed the sale of my house this past week. Last Saturday, I invited my family over to see the place.

I fully expected to hear my sister say she liked the apartment itself. Perhaps she would compliment the floor plan and community areas such as the clubhouses, fitness center and pool. But she did even better. She complimented me on what a good job I had done with the place. In other words, she practiced one of the tips in my previous blog article: praise people for things that are within their control.

The extent to which this shifted my focus from the adjustments and sacrifices I was making to a more positive view of my new home surprised and delighted me.

When I thanked my sister, she followed another tip from that past blog article: she embellished her compliment with details. She praised the speed with which I had accomplished the move, especially considering that I took time out in June for an important speaking engagement at an out of town conference. She mentioned specific things I had done with the apartment, such as my choices of which furnishings to move to the apartment, the way I had arranged them, and how I had decorated.

Days later, I still felt happy, energized and motivated. In addition, I actually liked the apartment better. Navigating the little kitchen no longer seemed quite so challenging. The walks to and from my garage became beneficial additions to my regular exercise program. The grounds, though more paved and manicured than my old bird lover’s back yard, looked prettier to me.

I hope each of you has the good fortune to receive detailed compliments about things that are within your control so that you, too, can feel their positive power. I also hope you will re-commit to using such forms of praise to motivate anyone, from your children to your coworkers, or even your boss. If you do, I’d love to hear your success stories.