What’s the Greatest Compliment You Ever Received?

It takes as little as one word. One word from a co-worker, blog commenter, or Stack Overflow user can make you feel like a champ. (Or a chump, depending on the word.)

(Let’s focus on feeling like a champ.)

What’s the greatest compliment you ever received about your professional work? Did someone compliment your tenacity, your calm under pressure, your ability to make chaos orderly, or maybe how you rescued a doomed project? Do you remember you felt when you heard it? Does it still influence you today? Share it in the comments!

Here’s mine, from 2010: “You’re a great researcher.”

When I think about all the different ways being a good researcher makes me better at my work, I can’t help but put that compliment at the top of my list. I’ll never forget it. What compliment will you never forget?

Erik says: The best compliment I ever got? “Your a idiot.”

Brent says: “You’re taller than you look on the webcasts.”

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83 Comments. Leave new

  • Best Compliment: “You saved us a lot of money”

  • How do you care so much?

  • Jim Donahoe
    June 23, 2016 9:08 am

    You are like a pit bull when it comes to problems. You lock your jaws and don’t let go until its fixed

  • “You’re smarter than me, what do you think?” From someone I consider way more smart than me

  • The best, and most humbling, compliments I’ve ever received at work was, “You’re the best manager/boss I’ve ever had.” I’m still trying to make sure I really earned those.

  • Yesterday, after a stressful situation, someone told me, “Your patience is commendable.” That’s good to hear because you have to really practice being calm & patient in stressful situations.

    Also, this reminds me once again to actually say compliments to people. Don’t just think them. Compliments from peers can be very empowering.

  • “you are a lifesaver”

  • John Hennesey
    June 23, 2016 11:13 am

    “You have shovels for hands.” – digging through data to figure out why and explain it to others.

  • “With you we can do anything”

  • Stephen Merkel
    June 23, 2016 11:15 am

    You sir, are a Steely Eyed Missle Man

  • Asking about the status of a small application I had provided, and dad not heard back about:

    “Oh, it just works.”

    Wish folks could say that about all my stuff!

  • ‘I come to you because I know you’ll give the customer the white glove experience’
    ‘You’re a bulldog and won’t give up until you solve the problem or exhaust all possibilities’

  • I received the official “Office Space” red stapler award. (and I still haven’t been moved to the basement!)

  • Todd Kleinhans
    June 23, 2016 11:25 am

    From my blue collar days at Discount Tire. I was really into being fast, safe, efficient and staying clean- took a ton of discipline and concentration. Physically grueling. My way of escaping boredom. After I finished working on a car one day, a customer said, “That was like watching a ballet, so smooth!” To which my boss said, “I know! I wish I had five more guys just like him!”

  • So far, I’ve had three full-time employers in my career. The first two still pay me to do work on the side / after hours for them, even though I’ve moved on to other things. (And the first has recommended me as a moonlighter for others in their field). I consider that pretty high praise.

  • Daniel Hoskins
    June 23, 2016 11:27 am

    More often than not, in this line of work (Database Administration, or even IT in general), I very rarely hear compliments or even a simple thank you. Normally, it’s a user, co-worker, or executive complaining about everything going slow, not understanding why they don’t have permissions to view data on the database level, or even as silly as being blamed for a someone else’s ineptitude to understand how to power on their machine.

    That being said, a compliment can go a long way to restoring ones faith in why they do this line of work. For me, the best compliment I ever have received came in the form of a nickname that was given to me by the VP of my company during a yearly review. He referred to me as “The glue”. Why I questioned why, he stated that “Your ability to put objectives into perspective and deal with fires while maintaining a calm demeanor is what keeps this department functioning.”. I guess it’s the small wins that keep us going, huh?

  • “You’ve impressed me, and I’m not easily impressed”

  • My CIO saying “please send Morden the security document as well, I value his opinion.” Completely floored me when I heard that from a Team Lead after the “Lead, Team Lead and Manager” meeting with the CIO.

  • I don’t have a “special compliment” in mind but last friday customer has requested a SQL migration of a critical environment without any planning and for the same day. In my company we have a lot of ITIL processes that get more complex in a “short lead time” situation like that. I spent ~4 or 5 hours documenting and planning this migration and I had to get the managers’s approval. The quality manager questioned: Have you done all this documentation in so little time? it’s so well detailed. Congratulations, this is the quality that we talk about everyday to all employees.

    Document a migration like these with so much pressure could result in a poor documentation but instead of think about it I tried to do my best, even stressed, and the sensation after the compliment was like: all worth it.

    ps.: Request for change has not been approved due to lack of time for evaluate risks, plan, etc. LOL

  • “Thanks for volunteering to do this, if you didn’t I was going to ask you to anyway, because that way I knew it would get done right.”

    “There is now way you did that in a week, last time it was done it to 2 people 2 months to complete.”

    “Mike, I need you to work your magic on this stored procedure, it runs too slow.”

    “You are the first professional DBA that has worked for this for this company.”

  • “Your session was great. It was the best one of the day for me”… Someone came up to me durring the raffle at the end of a SQL Saturday

  • Matt Salsbury
    June 23, 2016 11:41 am

    During a massive data conversion project I had one of the executives say to me, “You found all the things we’ve tried to hide over the years.”

    Of course I did, I’m your DBA.

  • Keith Gilcreast
    June 23, 2016 11:41 am

    Not from a co-worker, but a friend I was trying to help with his home computer in the mid 90’s:

    “I never could picture you in IT until I saw you in front of the computer”

    NOT looking like a tech-nerd while being a tech-nerd was a very cool compliment.

  • “{application} doesn’t lock up all the time like it used to. Did you do something?” after my predecessor spent months trying, said it couldn’t be fixed, and gave up.

    The fix? Using sp_BlitzCache to figure out what indexes I needed to add. Time to fix? About a day.

    Thanks, Brent Ozar, for making me look smart!

  • You’re a good listener.

  • I was called a gila monster for fixing a recurring problem once. I had to look up why as she wouldn’t tell me. It was pre-internet so it was down to the library. The venom is only in the lower jaw and there’s no injection mechanism. So they’ll basically hold on forever and try to flip upside down to “drip” it in.

  • From Server Fault, January 24, 2014. “I wish I could upvote this answer twice. It’s rewarding to read an experienced description of this particular and rare trench.”

  • Every time someone says “Thank you” and means it. I get warm and fuzzy inside.

  • “We didn’t notice a thing” –after a conversion/migration. (Kind of makes you wonder about your profession sometimes … )

  • While leaving 2 different jobs:

    “Any time you want to come back you are welcome’

    “I understand you wanting to leave you are too good a DBA to work here”

    And the one that put the biggest smile on my face:

    “Whatever you did to the database WOW just WOW” <— in a good way lol

  • At my yearly review I was told that this year I didn’t make anyone cry! Pretty big thumbs up, no!?!

  • “You’re better at interacting with than anyone else”. I’ve received that one for a couple different people.

  • “Thanks”… is the best word than I’d like to receive for all my actions.

  • I was told this by a colleague who came from the business side, “You’re not like most IT people, you’re friendly and helpful.”.

  • Never received many compliments usually in the day-to-day DBA stuff until I put in my two weeks notice and all these folks came out of the wood work thanking me for my hard work as I was leaving the company. It was a little shocking actually.

  • My boss: “I’m a big fan of Kevin Kelso.”

  • you’re short!

    from talking to your previous employers, I thought you’d be 7 feet tall!

  • Background:

    I got into a discussion with a new manager about a process change they were trying to implement. What I overheard set off warning bells in my head that it could lead to data integrity problems, but I couldn’t specifically identify what the problem was with the little I heard. The new manager was just going to blow me off until…

    My manger pulled out his wallet, placed all his cash on the desk (over $500) and said “If Jeff thinks there could be a problem, I’ll bet you there is a problem”.

  • Mark Freeman
    June 23, 2016 12:44 pm

    When I was manager of technical support for a couple of computer stores in the early ’80s, the owner called me “The Professor” because I always knew the answer to any question about PC hardware and software and I did my best to teach everyone else working there what I knew.

    Of course, it’s been a very long time since any one person could even try to know all the answers about PC hardware and software, but I was hot stuff in the 286 and WordStar/Multiplan days. 🙂

    Regardless, I still try to soak up what knowledge I can and share what I know with others. It’s a lot of why I love the SQL Server community and hope I never need to go back to working in an Oracle shop.

  • Jeff Oliphant
    June 23, 2016 12:46 pm

    I had just completed an optimization using partitioning on a very large very high volume multi-terabyte tables for the enterprise. I was sent a chart showing the latency time before and after. (it basically went from jagged mountain peaks line to almost a flat liner). The comment was “A thing of beauty”. That made my day!

  • Thank you. You explained my mistake without making me look stupid.

  • Brian Williams
    June 23, 2016 2:30 pm

    A previous boss stated. “I can’t believe that one person could change a department from 80% maintenance to 80% development, and to do it overnight”. All I did was implement referential Integrity.

  • Stephen Holland
    June 23, 2016 2:47 pm

    “I’ll trust you from now on.”

    From a business manager who had battled us for weeks regarding the time frame in which a migration could take place. All of the previous migrations had been very painful due to an under-prepared IT team. I told him, “I don’t play that way. I’ll be prepared, likely have tested it 50 times, and you’ll probably never even know we migrated.” He said that that he would believe it when he saw it, and he did. His full statement was:

    “You guys are almost finished? I didn’t even know you had started! This is awesome! YOU ARE AWESOME!! I’ll trust you from now on.”

  • From an email received last week from our private cloud supplier after I helped them out with a problem that was totally unrelated to SQL:

    Thanks Richard. Your depth of knowledge continues to astound me

  • Karen Linden
    June 23, 2016 3:12 pm

    I was told by a contractor I was working with “You should be in Mensa” I am not sure why I want to be in Mensa but I take it as a win.

  • Anders Pedersen
    June 23, 2016 3:38 pm


    When asked what kind of candidate they wanted me to find after I stepped in and filled an opening from a DBA that just walked off the job one day.

  • Debbie Rasnick
    June 23, 2016 3:43 pm

    The developers I work with on a daily basis always tell me “thanks” or at least “ty” when messaging after I help them with SQL or other database issues.

    The Support Lead goes a step further and says “You’re awesome, Debbie!” whenever I help out the Support group.

    It’s great to be thanked on a daily basis because my first career was in teaching and I’ve found that students don’t appreciate you in the moment – I’ve gotten thanks from them later, though, after they get out in the “real world”. Only then, do they appreciate their professors!

  • “Ahh, I understand that now”
    Not a comment but in general when I start a call with a customer and they are upset, and I end a call with them happy.

  • Idiots spell “you’re” incorrectly all the time. Lol

  • When I was moving on from a business my (then) manager said to me…

    “You’re going from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond”…

    Now I used to be a small fish in that small pond when I arrived – and I am now a big fish in a big pond at the new business – it made me strive to continue to grow and achieve and was a compliment in what I had achieved previously.

  • “I’m affraid we can’t hire you. You think things through too much and we need do-ers, not thinkers” at a job interview for a large insurance company as senior DBA

  • Ivar Otto Ekker
    June 24, 2016 3:10 am

    “Thanks, (I haven’t checked it, but I believe you)”

    From a customer, after I reported I had fixed an error and their system was up and running.

    And this guy never ever believed anything without checking it himself.

  • A round of applause from my Team 🙂

  • Many years ago I had a 3rd party provider say to my boss “why have you got him testing the code, he’s bound to find loads of bugs the end users wouldn’t”. Kind of a back handed compliment I guess.

  • Here is my favorites from a client. Nobody does anything until Sterrett approves.

  • Vítor Pombeiro
    June 24, 2016 5:07 am

    A really honest “Thank you”, this days it’s dificulte to know when someone is being honest or being kind for is own interest.

  • In the companies I worked I rarely got any compliments and the compliments I got were from people not calling me that things were slow 😉

    The biggest compliment I ever got was not from my manger or colleagues, it was from an third party which was supposed to audit the company for an ISO certification.
    They said: “We’ve never seen a database architecture this well documented and handled with well thought out procedures and we’ve seen a few. We would like to talk to the person in question about it.”

  • Brent Brown
    June 24, 2016 8:27 am

    “I’d like to hear what Brent thinks.” – From a manager of a different department.

    “Thanks. You really handled that well.” – After presiding over a tough, emotional School Board meeting.

    “At least go out and buy a new shirt.” – Midway through a 60 hour “day” dealing with crashed disk drives.

  • Brian Zimmerman
    June 24, 2016 9:39 am

    Great job!, But who are we going to find to do this when you leave…

    Something similar has been said to me at nearly all of the jobs I’ve had, and I put forth a great effort to make sure I give my employers and colleagues more than they expect and always leave things better than when I started.

    • Matthew Holloway
      June 26, 2016 6:00 pm

      Yes, this one is always good to hear.
      Ironically one we would hear less often if we were appreciated enough not leave.

  • Denise Maclean
    June 24, 2016 9:40 am

    ‘You ARE coming back, aren’t you? Please say you’re coming back!’ – when I was on maternity leave 😀

  • “you write code like a girl!”… from early in my career during my annual review from my female manager. She went on to explain she thought my coding style was elegant, pretty and easy to read. I think about that comment every time I write code. Thanks Carol S. wherever you are!

  • You are the companies Swiss Army knife

  • Brian A. Murphy
    June 24, 2016 4:36 pm

    “You obviously have passion about what you do.”

  • Matthew Holloway
    June 26, 2016 5:58 pm

    In relation to a job I was being head hunted for.
    No, we won’t require a technical interview. People speak so highly of you we have no doubts.

  • I was working as a consultant for a BI company in the mid 90’s and the VP of this company was selling my services. This VP was also the former Dean of Admissions for a prominent religious university in Texas.

    The client asked: “So, how good is this guy”

    The VP responded: “Well, he doesn’t walk on water… he sinks to his ankles.”

  • David Zokaites
    June 28, 2016 2:14 pm

    Thanks, love you dad.

  • “Master DBA”

  • Enrique Argüelles Añorve
    July 14, 2016 1:30 pm

    “Thank you”, with a broken voice but actually smiling.

    This person was going to get fired and I go a bit more than the contract actually supported and was scoped. I have hear others but I have always carry this because while data is important and keep boss, sla, and all that tidy see someone really mean those words mean a world at times.

  • You really killed it with that rendition of ‘Staying Alive’ at karaoke