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  • Bob Burg

“[Burg] has demonstrated that adding value to people's lives is the way to climb the ladder of financial success.”

~ Fran Tarkenton, Hall of Fame Quarterback and Founder/CEO GoSmallBiz.com

Compliment the Uncomplimented, Part 1

June 23rd, 2010 by Bob Burg

It’s often said, “A person who is nice to their friends but not to the waiter is not a nice person.” After all, one test of a person’s character can be said to come from how they treat those who are not in a position to help them.

Yet, complimenting – or even simply being polite to – a person not usually complimented, shown respect, or even acknowledged by others, can also have a tremendous impact on how far that person will go out of their way to help you, should the need arise. While this is not the reason to be nice to them, it is often the result.

What a nice way to live life when you consistently go out of your way to compliment those people who serve others but are not usually treated with a great deal of respect. From the street-sweeper to the skycap, from the hotel doorman to, well, any service person – aside from tipping or a quick thank you, do you refer to them as sir or ma’am? Do you acknowledge them with kindness? Do you genuinely think of them as important and significant, and does it show?

Yes, it makes a definite difference to their self-esteem. It also reflects how far they’ll go out of their way to make sure you are happy. And you never know when that will come in handy.

Again, that isn’t why you do it. You do it because it’s the right way to be, the right thing to do, and because it aligns with your value system in terms of how you feel is the best way to treat others. However, don’t argue with the results. Being this type of person will also pay off in big dividends.

“But” one might wonder, “not every person I’m nice to will ever be in a position to help me.”

That’s correct, they won’t. However, you’ll be practicing the habit of kindness on a continual basic (assuming you are not already; and I’m sure you are) and, as T. Harv Eker says, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

Have you found this to be true? Are there times you’ve extended yourself for someone even a bit more than usual because you just knew it would make their day that much more special, and it came back to you in a very practical and positive way?

In Part Two, we’ll look at an example we don’t see every day and, in actuality, will probably never happen to us…but it’s still a great example. 🙂

15 Responses to “Compliment the Uncomplimented, Part 1”
  1. Claire Boyles said at 7:26 am on

    I love it! Great reminder to treat everyone with respect & courtesy. I love it when I’m at a supermarket checkout when I look into the cashiers eyes & say thank you- they are often pleasantly surprised, as so many people just mutter thank you without ever even looking at the person who is serving them.

    I really appreciate people who serve me, so much, without them I would achieve far less in my life.

    And yes- don’t do it because you think it’s the right thing to do, because you might get rewarded for it- do it because it feels good.

    In my experience those who do it because they think they “should” don’t get the results they expect, because us humans, we’re canny little creatures- we know sincerity when we experience it!!

  2. Dag Nybo said at 7:56 am on

    I actually feel the best when I practice the very thing you write about here, Bob…. What you’re saying to me is be an includer in all cases.

    Love it…

  3. Bob Snitchler said at 8:17 am on

    Bob, this should be required reading by everyone everyday before breakfast. If everyone did that, this world would probably be a lot more civil.

  4. Mary Jabcon said at 8:30 am on

    The waiter today may be an associate, a client or your supervisor tomorrow. You can never be too connected to others.

  5. Sally G. said at 10:52 am on

    I agree with you whole-heartedly Bob. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the world would be a very different place if we could all see the Human Beings surrounding us instead of the roles they’re inhabiting at the time. To date, nothing beats the Golden Rule for Kindness and Respect Giving: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Thank you!

  6. What Sally said! If we go into each encounter and “ensoul” it…take a moment to really connect…our lives are so much richer. And when we find ways to be kind and loving throughout our day, we feel happier.

    It’s not so much what we’ll get back, but it’s who we are. It’s not a transaction, it’s a momentary connection.

    Thanks for reminding me of this today, Bob.

  7. Beth Bridges said at 12:52 pm on


    One of the few things that bothered me about my ex-husband when we first started dating was the way he treated wait-staff, sales people and other people in service positions. He was rude, condescending and a poor tipper. I shouldn’t have been surprised when eventually I received similar treatment when I failed to live up to his “standards”.

    I now judge people very strongly by the way they treat restaurant and sales staff. By treating them as “servants” or lower forms of humanity, I know for sure that the person I am dealing with has problems in seeing others as valid human beings deserving of fair treatment based on their actions, not what they do for a living.

    I’m looking forward to part 2!

    Beth Bridges
    The Networking Motivator

    P.S. I’ve since married a man who MAKES FRIENDS with every waitress, cashier and salesperson at every store we shop at. We were at the mall the other day and one of the people who works the checkstand at our grocery store stopped us to say “hello.” We were taking a walk and a guy on a bike said hi and shook my husband’s hand. Who was it? One of the guys from the hardware store 🙂

  8. Tele Raack said at 12:57 pm on

    “Wherever there is a human being there is an opportunity for kindness.” ~Seneca

  9. Melanie Strick said at 4:59 pm on

    I love playing the “how can I make them smile” game with everyone I encounter. Often it’s my Starbucks Barista, sometimes a waiter or once in a while the random passer by.

    Great reminder to find something to compliment each person who crosses our path.

    Melanie Benson Strick
    The Entrepreneur’s Success Coach

  10. Erick Cloward said at 5:45 pm on

    I know that I need to be reminded of this on occasion. I used to have a short temper and have worked hard on this, often remembering the days when I worked in customer service. A fantastic example of this is in the short film called Validation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbk980jV7Ao starting TJ Thyne from Bones. This film made me smile and reminded me that everyone just needs to feel appreciated.

  11. Bruno Coelho said at 6:04 pm on

    This is represents one of the cornerstones of my life. I believe that everyone has the right to be appreciated and, in a sense, loved. The way that you treat the people that are serving you, reveals a lot about your character.

    This reminds me of Mathew 5:47 when Jesus said “And if YOU greet YOUR brothers only, what extraordinary thing are YOU doing? Are not also the people of the nations doing the same thing?”

    This is also true when applied to a business. If you open a business without a passion to serve people… you’re in big trouble. Today, costumer experience plays a key role in this highly competitive global economy, where almost everything can be copied… everything except our human ability to love, inspire and help each other.

    Thank you for reminding this to us.

    Best regards,
    Bruno Coelho

  12. Heather Card said at 3:59 am on


    Oh this is so needed. The sad thing is that a lot of people just don’t ever think of it.

    My husband and I were talking about this very thing last evening on the way home

    from my “fiddle club” dinner.” (last meeting for the summer)

    We play our “downeast” fiddle music every second week and we have a

    couple of guitar players and piano players who show up every week to accompany us.

    We also have a very humble guy who does not play but loves to listen and sets up

    all of our chairs every time. Every week when we play our last tune, I go to each

    of them and thank them as they are packing up. I commented to my husband

    that I couldn’t believe nobody else ever did that. We would sound terrible without the band.

    We also discretly pick up the tab for the “closing” dinner for the man who sets up our chairs plus

    the keyboard player, an elderly lady. I love the look in their eyes when we show this appreciation.

    My husband said that I should remember that my other fiddle friends have not had the

    personal development training that I have had so therefore I have more responsibility

    to use what I have learned.

    He is absolutely right. Most of them will never read this blog, because those who do

    are hungry for more skills.

    The thing is, I know they are all wonderful and appreciative people, they just

    expect that people already know they are appreciated so they don’t verbalize it.

    Others will eventually learn from our example so we need to keep on keeping on.

    Thanks for the “nudge” as we can sometimes get lost in our own thoughts and forget.

    I really appreciate you Bob, and your consistant delivery of timely material.

  13. […] « Compliment the Uncomplimented, Part 1 […]

  14. Bob Burg said at 7:37 am on

    Hi Everyone. Once again, I’m simply flat-out blown away by the wisdom you’ve shared in your comments. Thank you so much for adding such exceptional value to everyone visiting this blog.

  15. JB Thompson said at 9:36 am on

    Thank you for this Bob! It is amazing how this does give a great reminder to “love all, serve all”. When my wife Carrie and I are out and about we try to go out of our way to, ask Chris Brady says, “Sprinkle a little sunshine everywhere you go!”

    We have made this a habit to be in the best of spirits and to treat EVERYONE with the utmost respect. We are all children of God, or as Dr Wayne Dyer talks about being part of the infinite intelligence. The force which does nothing, yet leaves nothing undone.

    Great lesson, now I will leave the house and apply it!

    Thank you Bob!!!

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