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By the way, I’m not fishing for a compliment

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
Mark Twain

I orginally intended this post to be about resolutions I would not make for 2010, but who needs to begin a year with such negativity? And, quite frankly, Michael doesn’t nap long enough for me to create a list of such length.

So, instead, I would like to share with you one resolution that I will make: I hereby declare (echo echo echo) that 2010 (echo echo echo) shall be The Year of the Good Compliment ! (echo echo echo)

In my very humble opinion, we don’t hear enough nice and sincere things about ourselves. In Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts says about the words people say to us, “The bad stuff is easier to believe.” When I first heard that, I felt a bit heartbroken because I knew it to be true.  But I submit to you that Good Compliments can dim the memory of ugly words. The more I think about it, the more I think that giving a Good Compliment is one of the kindest and worthwhile things that I can do.

But a compliment is not kind and worthwhile if it’s just flattery. The difference between a Good Compliment and flattery is veracity and motivation. If I say, “My hair is all jacked up” because I see copious amounts of frizz and random pieces sticking out like twigs in a mudpie, but my husband responds with, “No, it looks great,” I know that he’s just saying that to get us out the door and in the car. It’s not kind because if I went out like that people might start looking for a tin cup to drop money into. And it’s not worthwhile because I would just give him a dirty look and sit back down to get to work on my tossled tresses.

(By the way, my husband has never done that.)

(At least I don’t think so.)

Good Compliments are easily recognizable and remembered for months and maybe even years. For example, about four or five years ago my sister Julissa complimented me after a Sunday School class for not skipping over the topic of fasting in our study of Matthew and doing my best to make it interesting. Notice that I remember the details of the compliment and not just that she said a nice thing.

So I resolve that I will do the same: look for a positive thing to say about someone, compliment them on it, and follow up the compliment with an explanation. An example could be, “You are such a good mommy. I can tell that you put a lot of effort into preparing for your son’s birthday party. The invitations and decorations were just adorable.” Or, “You are a great friend. You could have been doing a million other things during your free time, but you chose to stay and keep me company.”

Those are two real-life examples of good things about people I know. But here’s the sad part: I told the first person only half of the compliment, and didn’t give the second person the compliment at all, even though I thought it. Why is that? Why can it be so difficult to tell people nice things? Does anybody have any thoughts about that? Please share in the comments.

2 thoughts on “By the way, I’m not fishing for a compliment”

  1. That's a great New Year's resolution. My husband and I just started reading "The Five Love Languages" together, and the first love language is "Words of Affirmation." It was a great reminder that although everyone loves a compliment, some people truly NEED them to feel loved. So spread the love!

    Your question made me think of an interesting moment I had the other day: I was standing at the bus stop, and I saw a woman standing across the street, waiting to cross. For some reason, she struck me as beautiful, even though by the world's standards I suppose she would be pretty average. The thought crossed my mind: "What if I told that woman what I just thought?"

    Would she think I was crazy? That I was out to get something? (Although it would help that I wasn't a man.) Or could an unsolicited compliment like that from a completely unknown woman make an impact that could affect that woman's self-esteem for a decade? Who knows? But I'm too shy to ever do a thing like that anyway…

  2. Beth@Not a Bow in Sight

    I'm so glad you stopped by my blog today.

    You're right. It is hard to give someone a compliment. I am always afraid that my compliment will be seen as idle flattery or with men- flirting.

    We should build each other up with our words! Great post!

    Looking forward to meeting you next week!

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