How to Make Someone’s Day

One challenge I have consistently heard people struggle with is how to initiate or break into a conversation at a networking event, conference, or simply a meeting where you don’t know anyone.


Fortunately, sometimes the simplest solution is the most effective – and powerful.


When in doubt, pay someone a compliment. It doesn’t need to be gushy and effusive; as a matter of fact, the shorter the better – then it just seems like an “instinctive blurt,” so they know it’s sincere.


For example: look for someone who is wearing something that catches your eye. It could be a piece of jewelry, a pair of shoes, a handbag, glasses, a retro t-shirt, snazzy socks, headphones/earbuds, or even a unique hairstyle or visible tattoo.


Then walk up to them and say:


“Love the shoes!”

“That’s a beautiful necklace.”

“Impressive ink.”

“That’s a great color on you.”

“Nice socks!”


Occasionally I hear men express concern about complimenting a woman for fear of their intention being misinterpreted. I’m pretty sure a sincere and casual compliment, following the simple structures above, would be appreciated by just about anyone.


But if you need a little insurance, consider qualifying with something like, “My wife/girlfriend/sister/daughter would absolutely love those shoes.”


Even if they’re already talking to someone else, it’s very easy to break in by simply walking up with a little smile and wave, and when you have their attention, say:


“Sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt; just wanted/had to tell you (insert compliment here).”


Watch the smile burst onto the other person’s face with the near-guaranteed response, “Thank you!”


Then transition with a simple “by the way, I’m (name),” and let the conversation flow from there.


I don’t have many solutions that I consider foolproof, but this one is at the top of the list.


And I’m not the only one who believes in the power of the simple compliment.


This week on the Speaking to Influence podcast, Lisa DiPaolo, CHRO of Karyopharm Therapeutics not only believes in the power of compliments, she made them the focus of her 24-hour influence challenge to us all: She challenges us to compliment as many people as possible within 24 hours.



Lisa also shared how she chose to be vulnerable with her team after a disappointing experience. Rather than hiding her emotions, she courageously expressed her feelings, creating a safe space for her team to open up as well. This vulnerability, rather than weakening her influence, actually strengthened the bond between her and her team.


It's a remarkable reminder of the power of authenticity and the potential it holds to forge meaningful connections with others.


We also explored various strategies for communicating in diverse cultural contexts and critically important tips to remember when communicating with non-native English speakers, no matter how fluent they may be.


Listen to the full podcast here or watch the video here.


By embracing vulnerability, expressing genuine appreciation, and actively engaging with others, we can create a positive ripple effect that brightens not only our lives but also the lives of those around us.