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Paying Compliments

Story ID:4736
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Manhattan KS USA
Year:2009
Person:The people we meet
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Note: In honor of Valentine's Day, here are some thoughts about what you can do to make others feel good.

Paying Compliments


After I’d read my President’s letter at a P.E.O. meeting recently, several members of my chapter offered compliments on the content, the writing, and my delivery. As one after another handed out praise, I began to glow from within. I felt taller, younger and happier all in a matter of minutes.

What if they’d thought those lovely words but had gone home without ever saying them aloud? I would have folded up my papers, gathered my coat and purse and driven on to the grocery store never knowing that my words had an effect on others.

The experience made me think about the impact of a compliment, and also what the lack of a compliment might mean. We all strive to do our best, and sometimes we make it to a higher rung of the ladder, while at other times we feel as though our feet are stuck in
hardening cement. A little sincere praise can be the bit of magic that lifts spirits, boosts self-esteem, and gives an incentive to keep on trying.

How often have you been at the mall or a ballgame and passed by a woman who really impressed you? Maybe it was her smile, or skin that glowed, or a hairdo that graced the person who wore it. I’ll wager to say that you’ve seen someone like that a good number of times. But do you stop and say, “Excuse me, but I wanted to tell you how beautiful your hair is” or have you ever said, “Excuse me, but I just had to tell you what a wonderful complexion you have.”

We fear approaching strangers with a compliment. What if she barks back, “Leave me alone!” If we say something positive, I doubt that will happen, but we do hesitate to approach someone we don’t know. We shouldn’t. The effect our comment may have might be worth whatever it takes to say it. Try it once, and the next time you would like to pay a compliment, the words will come more easily.

I was standing in line in a grocery check-out one day when a woman behind me said, “I have to tell you something…” and she went on to pay me a compliment that had me walking on air as I strolled to my car. A few words from a stranger turned my day into something special.

It made me think of the many times I’ve thought something nice about a person I’ve passed. And that’s what I did. I passed by, keeping the complimentary thoughts to myself. So what good does that do? It certainly didn’t give the person an up day, and it didn’t do much for me either. Wouldn’t it have been nicer if I’d taken the time and made the effort to stop her for an instant with a sincere compliment? She may have gone home feeling like a new person. At the very least, it might give her a momentary feeling of pleasure, and it could be a memory to hang onto for a long time.

Have you ever walked by a woman who was wearing a color that seemed perfect for her? Why not tell her? How hard would it be to say, “That yellow shirt looks wonderful on you.” I bet she’d wear the shirt until it became tattered and torn. The shirt would be special because someone noticed it, and every time she wears it, the compliment surfaces again.

Have you ever noticed someone being especially kind to another person? Is it wrong to walk over and say, “It’s nice to see someone who is so caring.” Not wrong at all. I have a feeling it will encourage further kindness.

People don’t necessarily do things in order to get compliments, but when others notice, it becomes more worthwhile. It gives an incentive to keep on with whatever it was they were doing—whether helping a handicapped person, patiently guiding an Alzheimer’s victim, or aiding a mother with several small children. Those who care for others become weary at times, and one small compliment can be a perfect energizer.

My daughter put in an especially difficult year in her job as a senior accountant in a large company. She’d had to take on the work of her supervisor as well as her own. Almost at the point of quitting, she went to a managers meeting one day and ended up being the recipient of several compliments regarding her job performance. Needless to
say, all thoughts of quitting evaporated, and she went back to her office with a much lighter heart. A sincere compliment to an employee or co-worker may reap a host of benefits in the workplace.

The next time you encounter a person who does something that impresses you or looks particularly nice, take an instant of your precious time and pay a compliment. The smile on her face and the light in her eyes will make you glad you did so.