Wednesday, March 11, 2009

the power of a compliment

I heard once that when someone has a negative experience, they will share it with (on average) ten people. When a person experiences something positive, however, they usually tell only one person.

Let's change all that, shall we?

Today I was on the receiving end of several compliments. Now, we can talk at length about receiving compliments,and how hard it is for some of us (particularly us girls.) I've actually trained myself to receive compliments graciously ("thank you.") What I'm pondering today is how absolutely good a compliment can be - to both receive and give.

A very creative friend of mine, a musician, told me this morning how much she likes my writing. I'm still floating on that one. It means a lot to me because I know she doesn't hand out compliments easily - she is always genuine.

When the lady at the cosmetics counter told me I had beautiful skin, I liked hearing that, too. It may just have been her sales training doing the talking, but that's OK. It was nice to hear something positive.

I felt so good after hearing these good things today that I decided to do a little experiment. I know it is great to receive compliments, but I also realize it is pretty cool to hand them out.

Recently I met a young woman at the Crisis Pregnancy Center where I am a volunteer. She is 32 and expecting her fifth child. Like many of the woman who come to the center, she is overwhelmed. She has so much responsibility, not much support. As I got to know her I was wowed by her intelligence, courage and ingenuity. I was impressed by how much she had sacrificed for her children. I was absolutely amazed at how hard she was willing to work to make her life better for herself and her children.

So I gave her something in addition to some diapers and clothing for her baby: I gave her a sincere compliment.

She smiled a beautiful smile, and her eyes absolutely shone. I could tell that she did not receive genuine praise very often. I was hooked.

So today, after I was fortunate enough to hear a few good words myself, I started that experiment in earnest. I sent my husband a text message: you are a good husband.

He texted me back, then called and left a voice mail.

First: "the suspicion is rising."

Then: "OK, so what did you buy? Either you bought something, or you want to buy something, or you want to go somewhere. So text me and tell me, what did you buy, and where do you want to go."

Apparently I do not compliment my Big Man enough. Or perhaps my compliments appear to be only well-placed bribes.

My goodness. Now I'm on a mission to give my husband - and the other wonderful people in my life - real, honest, non-self-serving compliments. I really need to work on this.

By the way, YOU look mahvelous!


Kraxpelax said...
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Christy Czarniecki said...

Cathy, this is beautifully written (as always)! Love the baby picture!

Aaron said...

So when are you going to tell me about the new clothes on the bed? Or the cosmetics you mention in the post? LOL :)

Thank you for the compliment!

Sarah (JOT) said...

Whaza happenen hotshtuff? That's hilarious about your husband. I love this experiment! I think I may make a change in my behaviour and call it good.

I went to get some scout stuff for our boys today and told my hubs, "I am trying to be enthusiastic and supportive - as you have always wanted and I want you to know I am!" Then, as he was packing up scout stuff for a pack we're leaving behind us soon (he's sticking around to help them stay on their feet - but only until the end of the month), I said, "You are a good man." It seemed to just lift a BURDEN off of him and he smiled and gave me smoochie. :-)
BTW, has anyone told you lately that you're a good writer? I'm just sayin'!

Bless you,

Soul Pockets said...

"What did you buy?" I love that! That is something my hubby would say if I was trying to be genuinely sweet to him. LOL

It took me a long time to even believe that the compliments people would give me were true. My mom always taught me to just say thank you to any compliment and I always have but I also always had a voice in my head saying, "yeah right" whenever someone complimented me. Isn't that sad?

I don't know where that negativity came from, but as I get older and hopefully wiser I have given up most of those negative thoughts.

I think I will take this challange with you and throw out more genuine compliments.

BTW have I told you you are such a smart and sweet person? :)

Christine said...

We are HUGE on the compliment thing at our house. Everyday my spouse tells our children to give at least one compliment out to someone. I try to also. Even to stranges with my eyes...I try to make eye contact and just wonder how they are doing.

Great post!

By the way...I think you are so cool and I am glad to know you over this crazy thing called the blog world!

GrandmaK said...

Funny how unexpected compliments get misunderstood sometimes...You're right. I probably don't compliment my Ron enough either...Will have to work on that! Thank you and do I LOVE that picture!!!!! Cathy

momto5minnies said...

Why thank you ;)

I think that is a wonderful plan ... may have to partake in that one myself!

Kim H. said...


And my husband would have asked the same questions -- so thank you for the heads-up that I'm probably not complimenting him enough.

And btw, you look super skinny today! :)

Cassie said...

At my friend's house they go around the dinner table and everyone has to say something nice about each person at the table. Not only is it great to hear a compliment but it soothes raw feelings if someone has just been in a argument or disagreement as well. I've always loved that idea but never did it myself. Always "too busy". Isn't that always the excuse? I love the experiment. I think I will try it too!

Laura said...

I would like to spend a day giving out compliments.
I need to spread some love around.
You've inspired me.

Cathy Adamkiewicz said...

The other day I went up to a woman at church and told her how I enjoyed seeing her at Mass: she is always wearing such a beautiful, peaceful smile (despite the fact that she has to use crutches to walk.) I told her so and she absolutely beamed. This is what it's all about.

Bonnie said...

What a great picture and what a great concept. If only we all could remember how much a kind sincere compliment means. I was just reading something the other day about telling the people in your life now how you feel and what you love about them because you never know about tomorrow. By the way Thanks for stoppin' by my blog :)