Compliments: The Ultimate Free Holiday Gift
When we offer compliments, we feel better about ourselves by making other people feel better about themselves! And when we accept a compliment gracefully, it works the same way.
Compliments are little gifts of love, perfect during this holiday season. They are powerful gifts that tell a person they are worthy of notice. But compliments work only if they are sincere, freely given reflections of our thoughts. If compliments are not genuine, they will backfire; faux flattery is highly transparent! A false compliment makes the speaker untrustworthy. It raises suspicions about motives, which can undermine a whole relationship. So keep those compliments genuine!
When someone pays me a genuine compliment, it puts a bounce in my step. Wouldn’t it be great if you could make someone else’s day a little bouncier? I adopted a life philosophy years ago whereby when I meet anyone, I look for their special “something” and then I compliment them on it. For example, if I am at the grocery store and the checker has a great smile, I will say, “You have an amazing smile.” When we’re nice to others, they’re usually nice back. And when the compliments go around, everyone feels fantastic. Compliments are a small gift of confidence and good will this holiday season—and they’re totally free!
So how can you give and receive compliments with confidence?
How to Give a Compliment
Surprise! Giving a compliment is much easier than receiving one. You can go with your gut, and simply tell another person you first instinct to compliment them, such as when they’re wearing a great scarf. But there are also compliments that express something you’ve always thought about a person but have never put into words, such as their consistent reliability.
- The golden rule of compliments: always be honest and sincere.
- A woman complimenting another woman is much simpler than a woman complimenting a man or vice versa. Most women are thrilled with a compliment from another woman, even if it’s someone they don’t know. But when a woman compliments a man, it can be perceived as flirting. An impersonal compliment, as in “That’s a great shirt,” rather than “That shirt makes you look handsome,” can help temper this. The situation can get even trickier when a man compliments a woman. In this climate of heightened sexual-harassment awareness, even “Nice blouse!” can be taken to refer to what’s under the blouse instead of to the blouse itself. It might be better for men not to compliment women at all unless they are close friends. This is especially true in professional relationships where the man is more powerful than the woman, such as an executive and his administrative assistant.
- How you deliver a compliment is almost as important as what you say. Key in delivery is eye contact: body language that speaks volumes about your sincerity.
Receiving a Compliment
Now for the hard part—receiving a compliment, which is tough for so many people. Often our first reaction is to deflect attention by demurring or putting ourselves down. This is especially true in women, who too often discount compliments. “Wow, you look great today” turns into, “Oh, I hardly slept. You must have missed the giant bags under my eyes.” But this is not a graceful response, as it sucks the positivity out of the air and can make the compliment-giver feel unappreciated, dismissed, or even silly for commenting on something so unworthy of praise. At the very least, responses like these create social awkwardness. Remember, compliments are meant to make the receiver and the giver feel great! Fortunately, the solution is easy.
- Two words solve everything: “Thank you,” with a smile, of course! But you could also follow it with a small acknowledgment like, “How nice of you!” or “What a nice thing to say.” That will make the compliment-giver pleased.
- As when giving a compliment, make sure you look the compliment-giver in the eyes when you say thanks. Eye contact means your thank-you is genuine; no blushing or turning aside!
Appreciating ourselves enough to accept compliments gracefully is the other side of appreciating others enough to compliment them. Give someone a sincere compliment today, and the next time you are complimented, accept it with grace and a bounce in your step!
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