A lot of people don’t realize this, but there is a kind of magic in the art of giving and receiving compliments. If done correctly and sincerely, it can have a profound impact on someone’s day, or even life.
But the truth is, most people go by their daily lives not really thinking about whether they give or receive compliments. It’s not really common culture to go around singing praise left, right and center.
In fact, giving and/or receiving compliments can take someone out of their comfort zone.
For a lot of people, receiving compliments can be tough. Some people don’t “trust” compliments and find it hard to take them in. For some, receiving a compliment puts them on the spot – they feel they need to return the gesture and this can sometimes make some people feel uncomfortable.
And then there are those who find giving compliments something very difficult to do perhaps because they don’t want any kind of reaction they can’t handle or perhaps because they don’t want to inflate someone’s ego.
“I think it’s just silly to be stingy with compliments. If you see someone and they strike you as beautiful in any way, why not let them know?” Jill Scott
However, regardless of the reason one avoids compliments, there is definitely something to the practice of giving and receiving compliments that we are missing – it has the power brighten your day and help make you happier.
How? By training your brain to see the positive.
I started to really observe the effect of compliments after working in a company like Mindvalley. I’m very blessed to have the experience of being in a work culture that is rich in compliments and appreciation and as a result, really drives everyone’s overall happiness.
People feel seen and heard. They feel their lives are worth something, even if it’s small. That sense of notice is ultimately something we’re all longing for.
There are several exercises one can practice to inculcate this, but the one that has had the most profound effect on me was an exercise that we practiced at a team retreat several years ago called, “The Beauty I See In You”.
The way it works is like this: everyone stands around spaced out in a hall. It’s nice to have some soothing music in the background to guide the energy. You then have to walk up to someone you appreciate and tell them what it is about them that makes you feel that way.
You can read more on the exercise here.
The real transformation happens two ways: learning how to receive when something nice is said to you about you, and watching the effect of what you say to others when you pay them a compliment.
First of all, when someone comes up to you to tell you what the beauty they see in you is, all you’re allowed to do is listen, take it in, then respond by saying “Thank you” or “I receive that” then walk away either to give a compliment to someone else or to receive another compliment from someone who is next in approaching you.
You’ll be surprised by how difficult it is to receive. This was a tough one for me.
People could start to tell you things you never expected to hear – you’ll be shocked by how you’re seen in the eyes of others. A lot of times, we are the ones who beat ourselves up the most and talk down to ourselves, so we cannot imagine that others might see any good or potential in us.
When you hear the nice things someone says about you, it will inspire you and move you in ways to make you want to be a better person, or at least make you feel better if you were dealing with low self-esteem or other issues.
For some people, this exercise could be the first time they ever really receive a compliment in their whole life – it can be a very moving and powerful experience.
Which brings me to another profound aspect – the effect you notice you have on people when you tell them something nice about themselves they didn’t expect to hear, least of all from you.
The act can forge or bridge relationships, it can strengthen a person’s being and give them hope, and most of all, the act of giving a compliment can create a loop for happiness for both parties.
So – we get the positive impact compliments can have, but it can still take time for some people to work through their issues before they can really make it a frequent practice. You’ll have to do the work, but don’t hold yourself back – there is nothing to fear, only so much to gain.
Understand what it is about compliments that could make you feel uncomfortable and then address them. Just face your fear. There is only good on the other side of that.
And then when you’re ready, begin an experiment. Start giving out compliments whether you’re receiving any back or not. You may be uncomfortable at first, but don’t stop until the discomfort passes.
Start small – it doesn’t have to be anything too out there or complicated. Even a simple, “Thank you I really appreciate your help”, “Wow, you’re really good at this”, “You look lovely today”, “I love that outfit on you” or “Nice shoes” can make a difference to someone’s day. You can do this face-to-face, via text, on a sticky note, or even in an email. (And honestly, it doesn’t matter whether they react or not, the compliment will definitely move them within, and just be happy you did your part by doing something kind and nice that day.)
And if someone says something nice to you, just say “Thank you” and take it in. Don’t say anything back like “Oh, this old thing…?” or “Really? Nah.. but thanks anyway”. Don’t discredit – just receive, feel good about it, appreciate that quality about yourself, and let that spring in your step lead the whole day.
Let’s all spread the love – I think the world could use more compliments and making people feel good.
“When someone who loves and cares about me compliments me, I feel more glamorous than when the flashbulbs are going off on the red carpet.” Gabrielle Union
Start by dishing them out and see what you get back in return from the universe. You can even give yourself compliments, don’t think that makes you egocentric. In fact, learning how to appreciate and compliment yourself can also make you a happier person.
Feel free to say things like, “I am pretty good at that”, “Wow I really make myself laugh sometimes” or even “Geez, I look pretty good today!”.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine… right?
And with that, I’d love to end with this great video on drive-by compliments. I loved seeing how people reacted to receiving compliments from a stranger.
I hope it can inspire you to do the same to those you love – and yes even strangers too – with an open heart, simply for the sake of making someone smile.
What are your thoughts on compliments? Share them with us below!