How to Say “Good Job!” in Plain English

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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There are many things to admire about the British, the most obvious being their attractive accents, which somehow make them sound much smarter and far more commanding than their American colleagues. It doesn’t matter how disheveled their appearance might be, or how dry the subject is, those darn accents can captivate even the most insolent audience.

Aside from that, another thing I greatly appreciate about the Brits is their great facility for doling out words of praise. This doesn’t come so easy to us Americans, as we’d rather avoid giving our employees or co-workers too much praise for fear that they may get a big head, or suddenly ask for an inappropriate raise, or get promoted behind our backs and then take advantage of us later. No, we’d rather keep it to ourselves and keep those people in their places.

But the English seem to have freely mastered the art of accolades.

For instance, upon completion of the most mundane and insignificant task, my British colleague will go so far as to tell me I’m brilliant. Not just, “Okay, thanks,” or “Hmmphh,” but he suddenly endows me with brilliance, a quality generally reserved for Nobel Prize winners and virtuoso concert masters.

Me: “Bob, I went ahead and rescheduled that meeting to the larger conference room, like you suggested.”

Bob: “Brilliant!”

I beam in the glow of my great accomplishment.

And when my British colleague is feeling a bit more carefree, he might shorten it to simply, “Bril!”

Bril. Like a secret code word between us, quietly acknowledging my extreme capabilities.

Another firmly British expression of accomplishment is, “Well done!” Here is yet another phrase that seems to fall so casually from the lips of these commanding professionals from across the pond, yet it makes me feel like a million bucks. After delivering a successful Powerpoint presentation, perhaps, or upon serving a delicious meal, or shooting a pheasant, you will likely be greeted by this rousing phrase of uplifting sentiment. “Well done, mate!” Usually there is a greater emphasis on the second word, to give it more punch. “Well DONE, mate!” Just so you know they really mean it.

This makes the American equivalent of “Good job,” or even the lame, “Thanks,” sound hollow and, I don’t know, mean-spirited, by comparison. Maybe it’s because most of the time we can barely mumble it out of our mouth full of marbles, if at all.

Randy: “Hey, Brad, I was up all night, but I finally completed that analysis you asked me for. It shows that my team has saved the company ten gazillion dollars since February.”

Me: “Hm, what? Oh, yeah. I know. Thanks. Give it to me.”

Why do we have to be so intent in holding back appreciation to others, so meager in our expressions of praise? Perhaps it would be best for all of us who are in leadership positions to immediately adopt British accents, and then go around thanking and praising our people with those uplifting English phrases. Brilliant! Well DONE, mate!

I’m sure our employees and co-workers would be captivated. And I’m not just talking about the fake accent.