Right now, think of someone you love and appreciate.
Got em? Ok, now what is it that you love about them? Their kindness? Their ability to make you laugh? Maybe it’s that they’re consistent in their actions and makes you feel safe…. Now stop reading this. Pick up the phone, or go into the other room (if they happen to be living with you) and compliment them. Be sincere and be specific. Don’t think about it. Don’t hesitate, just go and say it. Do it! Seriously… I’ll wait.
Welcome back… how do you feel? I’m guessing you feel instantly good… if you did it. If not you might feel a slight twinge of guilt for skipping down to read this. If that’s the case, do it now and you’ll release your feeling of guilt, and won’t that feel good?
By the way, I just did the exercise, too; moments ago my 20-year-old stepdaughter walked by my desk. I looked up from the keyboard and said: “Julia, I think you are beautiful, and I love you.” (AW!!) It was the first thing that popped into my head. Her face literally lit up! She smiled and said, “Oh thank you! I love you.” We just made a connection, and both of us felt a little bit of joy. How easy was that?
Can you imagine if every person who reads this post complimented someone? What kind of ripple in the universe would we collectively make? If you were to share this message with others and they praised someone else, can you see how it might just change the world in a small but significant way? Something so easy, something so powerful, yet something we don’t do often enough.
Why is it so hard to give a compliment? When you read the first paragraph, did you feel any resistance inside you? Did you think, “I’ll do it later” or “this is lame”? Where did that come from? My guess is that you, like all of us, are resistant to being vulnerable, and to give a compliment is to be vulnerable. At that point in time when we give a compliment, we are exposed and waiting for the person‘s response. What if they laugh? What if they mock us, accuse us of wanting something? What if they flat out ignore us? Or what if we make them uncomfortable? It’s human nature to avoid pain and discomfort which is why it’s so dang difficult to give a sincere compliment.
The flip side is that the return on investment is huge! Here are four reasons to give someone a compliment.
1. Giving a compliment creates a connection. One of our most basic human needs is for connection. A compliment communicates safety and respect, the two main ingredients
needed to create a connection. We’re social beings, and as such we thrive on the opinions of others as a way to know if we’re accepted. Acceptance means safety and protection from the group. This is how as a species we have survived.
2. Giving a compliment feels good. Not just for the person receiving the compliment, but for the person giving as well. This is what is called a win-win; You feel good, they feel good, it’s all good. Complimenting someone truly changes your emotional state. In an instant, you can go from feeling angry, depressed, sad to rewarding your brain with a big boost of dopamine. About the same effect as a piece of chocolate.
3. Giving a compliment creates competencies. A study completed at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan showed that compliments significantly increased a person’s ability to remember how to do a task and improved their ability to recall details. This could be beneficial when trying to help your child to learn their schoolwork, coaching a client or teaching someone something new.
4. Giving a compliment can change history. You never know what someone is going through, and a compliment might allow them the little boost of confidence they needed to make a life–changing decision. I remember when I was first thinking about changing careers and becoming a counselor. I told a friend about my idea, and he only said, “You’d be excellent at that!” I remember that compliment was the deciding factor in going back to school, changing careers and becoming a helper and may well be the reason you’re reading this right now.
Giving a compliment costs you nothing but pays big dividends. Friendship, love, laughter, connection and joy can all come from a simple, sincere compliment.
With all the benefits of compliments, why not give more? Come on; I dare you!
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