Compliment people! Magnify their strengths!
Every day we have a fresh opportunity to build other people up. We have opportunities all around us to help someone identify a new level of confidence within themselves by simply complimenting them on a skill or behavior.
So why don’t we do it more often? Probably because we are busy, focusing on our own needs and responsibilities. But also, perhaps, because we don’t realize how powerful a simple compliment really is.
Common in therapy and communication exercises, couples are asked to compliment one another, by sharing something they like about the other or something the other person does. This exercise often leaves even the kindest minds blank, as we are not accustomed to focusing on praising other people as much as we are used to judging or criticizing them.
But compliments are much easier to come up with than we think. It just takes a little practice. There is a l w a y s something that can be said as a compliment to any person on any given day, and I urge you to test this out. For one day, make it a goal to give one compliment to every single person you come into contact with. It could be anything …
“That color looks amazing on you!”
“You have such a great sense of humor!”
“What a cool bag, what a great sense of style!”
“I really admire your hard work, it stands out!”
“Good job doing (abc), you’re really good at it!”
“I love that post / picture / Article you shared the other day, good choice!”
“I love your confidence, it really shines through in your work!”
Your compliment could mean the difference between that person having a good or bad day, or even help that person to recognize a strength for the very first time that they can now own and recognize internally because of your calling attention to it. Compliments and random acts of kindness can change people’s lives – and often when a successful person is sharing their secrets to starting out, it includes how someone else believed in them, gave them a chance, inspired them, or because of a specific moment of time when something occurred.
I will never forget the first day I left my house alone after having my first child, and attempted a quick Starbucks drive-through coffee and walk at the park. The line was long after ordering and my son started crying in his car seat, which I couldn’t reach. I was trying to help soothe him from the drivers seat with my voice, some singing, a few rattles or toys — hard to remember exactly, but I must have seemed obviously frazzled, tired and overwhelmed because when I pulled up to pay for my coffee, the barista informed me that the woman ahead of me in line had seen my struggle in her rear view mirror and asked to pay for my coffee, to add a cookie to my order and to tell me “You’re doing an amazing job, hang in there! And — welcome to the mom club.”
It seriously still moves me to tears when I recall that experience. It was the smallest, most powerful and unexpected gift I have ever received.
Why? Because I didn’t realize I needed that extra love and words until she gave it to me. I was not aware of how deeply vulnerable I felt that day until a stranger took notice and told me I was doing a good job. She slowed down for a moment during her own busy day to recognize and honor me out of the blue just when I felt like I was totally failing and regretting leaving the house at all. It gave me great perspective and the confidence to stay out that day and walk, instead of rushing home defeated.
As I drove away (savoring that first bold sip of hot creamy coffee I had been imagining for hours), I realized for the first time that when I might be feeling alone as a new mother, up in the middle of the night nursing when the rest of the world is asleep, dragging in the morning with little sleep, crying in the shower, even blissfully singing and snuggling my little one – that I’m never really alone. I’m connected to a collective community of women and mothers everywhere in the world going through those same moments together. She didn’t judge me in my moment of car chaos, she praised me. It was completely empowering!
Her gesture was so unexpected and so small, but it truly changed the chemistry in my body and my mindset going forward.
I have a few friends who didn’t have the confidence to pursue the work or hobby they wanted to do until someone else validated them by saying they were good at that type of thing.
I’ve known customer services reps who didn’t think they could ever become a sales person until enough other people told them they had great sales skills. Strengths that they didn’t see in themselves, or if they did, they didn’t have the confidence to act on it until someone else praised them for it.
So, the next time there is a parent in line behind you at the store with a toddler throwing an epic tantrum, turn around and tell them they are a superhero.
When you notice someone looking uncomfortable, compliment them on a great outfit.
Pay for someone’s cup of coffee behind you in line.
Let the person with less items go ahead of you in line at the store.
Tell someone who seems broken that they are strong.
***And if your husband, wife or partner is just driving you bonkers, rise above and tell them something you love about them to reinforce the positive things they do. Because it’s not that hard. Because it’s important. And, because people will do more of what they are complimented on than what they are criticized for. The problem is that we don’t compliment each other enough to see that in action. Plain and simple, people are empowered by praise, and when we help each other out, we build each other up.
Compliments and kind words have extraordinary power and when you pair praise with simple acts of daily kindness – incredible things can start to happen. Help your community by taking the lead and start giving compliments left and right. It doesn’t cost a thing but a moment of your time. Plus, you’ll be surprised how great it makes you feel, too!
Ps. You made a good decision to read this blog post to the very end! Great job! 👍🏽😉
Written by Katya J. Lerner
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