Want to Feel More Positive? Learn to Give Genuine ComplimentsBy Margaret Manning
Giving a genuine compliment is an amazing positivity boost! But compliments are not only good for the recipients—they’re good for the people who give them as well. When you go out of your way to say something nice and give thoughtful praise to another person, it amplifies your self-confidence and nourishes your self-esteem.
You can make someone’s day by sharing your positivity in the form of a genuine compliment. Telling someone, with a smile, that they have beautiful eyes, or that the color they are wearing suits them, will also increase and enhance your own sense of well-being.
The act of giving compliments creates a virtuous circle. Telling someone that they have made a positive impact on your life, or that you admired the way they handled a situation, is a powerful gift. You reinforce their value in the world, while strengthening your relationship.
Compliments make other people feel good and make others want to be around you. In fact, giving compliments is a form of leadership and influence, because people love to be around positive people, and will be more likely to follow your example and listen to your ideas.
Be a source of positivity and happiness in the lives of others. Everything you give will come back to you many times over. Take a few moments to think about the last time someone gave you a genuine compliment—and not just a casual compliment, but a genuine piece of specific, thoughtful praise. How did it make you feel?
Compliments don’t just make others feel great. They also enhance our own self-confidence. Giving a genuine compliment requires us to look for the good in others. In doing so, we also start to see the good in ourselves. We realize that we are all on the same journey together and that each of us has value to share with the world.
Seeing the good in others has another powerful benefit. By appreciating and respecting others, we become a magnet for their reciprocated love. So, how do you give a compliment? First of all, you give it—freely and without the expectation of anything in return. This may feel awkward at first, but that’s OK. If your compliment is genuine, the receiver will feel the power of your words. They will see warmth in your smile and genuine appreciation in your eyes.
After you give someone a compliment, don’t expect them to respond immediately. Many people won’t know how to react to a genuine compliment at first—people are often so surrounded by small talk and commercial messages and insincerity that a genuine compliment might take them by surprise. Just remember that you are bringing good into the world by seeing the best in others and putting your appreciation in words.
Sometimes, the most effective compliments are the ones that focus on the details in people’s lives. We are naturally skeptical of big claims and generalities. But when someone pays attention to the small things that bring value to our lives, their words carry credibility and power.
For example, if we say, “You have beautiful eyes”, we are focusing on an obvious trait and inviting an awkward silence or a polite “thanks.” However, if we ask “That scarf really compliments your beautiful eyes—where did you find it?” our compliment seems genuine and we invite further conversation without embarrassing our friend.
It’s also important to remember that some of the best compliments have nothing to do with a person’s appearance. For example, you might say “It was very brave of you to speak your mind on that topic. Were you nervous?” or “It must have taken a lot of courage to go on that trip. What was the highlight for you?”
Why is this important? It’s because people cannot always control their appearance. In fact, even some of the most beautiful looking people might be uncomfortable being complimented or judged on their appearance alone. So instead of focusing your compliments on people’s appearances, look for ways to compliment people for their character, their actions and their choices.
Another key to giving genuine compliments is empathy. Rather than telling someone what we think they want to hear, we should tell them what we genuinely think is special about them. Be honest. In order to give a true compliment, you need to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. In a world filled with cynicism and negativity, looking for the good in others is a big step towards a more positive life.
Genuine compliments form powerful bonds between people, but they don’t have to be given face-to-face. We can also do more to create a spirit of positivity and gratitude in our interactions with people online.
Think about your own “Friends list” on Facebook. We have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but how connected are we really? The problem with having a “like” button is that it makes it too easy to passively engage in the important events that happen around us. Facebook can be a wonderful tool to make new friends and stay in touch with old friends, but we should avoid superficial interactions and look for opportunities to give genuine compliments to the people that matter to us.
When a friend moves to a new house, don’t just click “like” – say “What a wonderful picture of your new home! I can just imagine your kids laughing as they play in that beautiful oak tree in the garden!” If it’s someone’s birthday, remind them of a special time that you spent together and how important they are. Look for ways to give public, specific compliments to your friends on Facebook—share a story about a time they helped you through some challenges in your life, or give some details about why they are so beloved. It really makes a difference.
Learning how to receive a compliment is almost as important as learning how to give one. Too often, women in particular tend to deflect praise. Have you noticed yourself doing this? Have you noticed how some of the most generous and capable and well-liked people in your life are the ones who struggle to accept a compliment?
If someone gives you a genuine compliment, remember that this is their gift and accept it graciously, with a smile. It takes confidence to give a compliment, so, don’t devalue the gift by playing it down. Simply saying “Thank you, that’s very nice of you to say” is enough.
On a deeper level, learning how to accept a compliment with grace demonstrates self-confidence, which itself can contribute to a more positive life. Take a moment to think about the last time someone gave you a genuine compliment. How did you react? Did you accept their gift with grace?
Compliments are not treasures to be hoarded. Their value multiplies with use. Every time you give a genuine compliment it will get easier. And, since compliments start with empathy, using them will help you to see the world in a more balanced and positive way. Let others see the good that you see in them. Your life and theirs will be better for the effort.
This is a guest post by Margaret Manning of Boomerly.com. Boomerly is an online service that helps people over 50 to build meaningful friendships with people who share their interests.
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