"Everybody Likes a Compliment" Posted on 02 Mar 15:52
Today is World Compliment Day. I have mixed emotions about having a day reserved for compliments. Is a global reminder really necessary? It seems like this should be as natural for us as breathing in oxygen. After all, giving a compliment isn't a tough skill to master like listening empathically or learning a foreign language. Maybe that's the idealist coming out in me. I like to pay compliments. A little compliment goes a very long way. Mark Twain gushed, "I can live for 2 months on a good compliment." Truth is, we all can if praise is given and received well. So, on World Compliment Day, with Bruce Springsteen playing in my ears, here are a few of my favorite tips for becoming a world class complimenter.
This seems like no-brainer advice I know. Sometimes though our praise can lose potency unwittingly. Don't offer a compliment and ask for a favor at the same time. Asking for something will seem like the motivation for your verbal admiration. Remember thatspontaneous compliments are oftentimes the very best kind because they tend to be authentic. Don't hold back when a gracious thought pops into your mind. Don't wait for the perfect moment.
One of the most memorable compliments my mom paid me came when we were browsing around the Pottery Barn. It was casual shopping and we chatted as we ogled at cute stuff. There was a long pause in our conversation as I focused on a particularly smashing paint color PB was flaunting on one of their walls. I'll never forget looking to my right to see if my mother had disappeared into the bath accessories section as announced. She was nearby–she was looking at me earnestly. Out of the Stratton Blue she said, "I love you. You are a wonderful daughter." Awestruck, I could see pure sincerity in her bluest eyes that bolted straight to my unsuspecting heart. I'll never forget that arbitrary sublime moment.
Master complimenters pay attention to detail. It's one thing to say, "I love your haircut" and it's quite another thing to say, "I love your haircut because of the way it frames your face." The latter feels more substantive because it provides evidence for your claim, like you've really thought about what you said. Be unique with your praise because it will also feel more real and heartfelt. It's a good idea when you offer a compliment to describe the effect someone or something has had on you. When people see how lives not only intersect but inspire each others, we tend to feel the gravity of giving, we tend to feel the importance of the praise being given. Those specifics make for more memorable compliments or the kind of compliments we "can live on."
Give a Compliment like a Gift
When you offer praise, expect nothing in return. If you require reciprocal admiration it not only feels less genuine, it cheapens what you say because it comes at a cost. Give freely and generously. Be sure to avoid the backhanded stuff that also diminishes praise because it's hitched to a negatively charged statement. I also like the idea of pausing sometimes when offering a compliment–let them bask in it for a moment. Robert Orben believes that, "a compliment is verbal sunshine." No reason not to let your words warm another for more than a flash second.
Cultivate a Habit of Appreciation
When you look for the positive, for the good in others, it will definitely be easier to find times where you can sincerely, specifically, freely praise. And you know what? It feels good. Offering compliments is a healthy practice for both parties involved. I highly recommend it, regardless of whether it is or isn't World Compliment Day. Thanks for listening. I think you've got a great ear...I'm guessing it matches your heart.
*The title of this post is a quote from Honest (and Praiseworthy) Abe.