Merriam-Webster defines a compliment as “an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration”.
A compliment by definition is a respectful way to show admiration and should not make the other person feel uncomfortable or intimidated. Appropriate compliments are those that can be delivered to anyone irrespective of their gender.
Sexual harassment by definition are acts that are sexually tinged and make the other person feel uncomfortable, threatened. Any statements that are gendered in nature or sexually coloured cannot be considered as appropriate forms of compliment.
Often before complimenting another person, it’s a good thing to evaluate if it’s an appropriate thing to say. However, complimenting others at a workplace can make the other person feel great about themselves while helping in build workspace relationships.
An example of a compliment versus what can be construed to be sexual harassment.
Compliment: “ You did a great job at the ideation, really impressed on your efforts at closing the contract”
“ Excellent work with our social media outreach campaign, you are a star!”
Sexual harassment: “ You looked so beautiful at the presentation, no wonder the clients caved in. Great going”
“ I love the pictures of you on our social media pages, your beauty attracts a greater outreach”
Here are few things to keep in mind while complementing your colleagues:
- Understanding that the motive of the compliment is to appreciate the other person and should make them feel good about themselves. While statements that are sexually harassed creates a situation of intimidation and make the person feel uncomfortable.
- In a workspace environment, sticks to giving compliments to your colleagues regarding their skill set, intelligence and accomplishments.
- Make sure you validate the work quality, professionalism these things can make the employee feel valued and impact the work performance.
- Make sure the compliments are not gender-specific or based on the physical appearance of a person.
- Don’t give a statement that objectifies someone’s body