MyWords | What has happened to this generation’s art of complimenting?
Compliments are a major component of our social lives. A simple “You look nice!”, “That’s a pretty dress”, “You have a beautiful handwriting”, “Gorgeous shoes” can change your mood in a split second, you know it and I know it, too. If given right they create so much positive energy that they make things happen almost as if by magic. They ease the atmosphere around two people and kindly dispose people to each other. Of course, there is a way to give them. And, just as important, a way to receive them. And everyone needs to know how to do both.
A few days ago, I liked how a girl dressed up, so I went over and complimented her. In response, I got three pairs of eyes shooting up in my direction in a way as if I had just landed from Saturn and complimenting someone was a sin! This generation’s art of complimenting is downgrading, it is a well-known fact. Why can’t we say, “She looks pretty” instead of “She looks hot”. Hot doesn’t really go in the compliment section. It’s clear that we’re people, not scales of temperature. Neither does sexy. Sexy is your personal opinion about a person who you find sexually attractive. What am I supposed to say when someone calls me sexy? Thank you so much? Naaah. Not so much.
Compliments are little gifts of love. They are not asked for or demanded. They tell a person they are worthy of notice. They are powerful gifts. And work only if they are sincere reflections of what we think and if they are given freely and not coerced. Compliments backfire if they are not genuine. And faux flattery is usually highly transparent. A false compliment makes the speaker untrustworthy; it raises suspicions about motives. And that can undermine a whole relationship.
The art of the compliment is not only a powerful social skill; it is one of the most fundamental. You don’t need to be an expert to do it well. You just need to be genuine. Compliments are in fact one of the finest tools for acquiring more social skills because the returns are great and immediate. They escalate the atmosphere of positivity and become social lubricants, fostering the flow of conversation and advancing communication by enhancing receptivity.
Now that was about giving compliments. What about receiving them? Sadly, too many people discount compliments. Perhaps you’ve been in this situation yourself. Someone says, “Wow, you look great today.” And you say, “oh, but I feel so fat (ugly) today.” Or you get complimented on an outfit and you say, “Oh, this old thing, I’ve had it for years.” Or someone says, “Hey, you gave a really good presentation.” And you say, “oh, I just slapped some stuff together in five minutes.” Such answers instantly suck the positivity out of the air and deflate the donor. They make the giver feel stupid for noticing and commenting on something so unworthy of praise. They totally invalidate the person’s judgment. At the very least, they create social awkwardness.
There is only one way to receive a compliment—graciously, with a smile. The art of receiving a compliment teaches us an important lesson about life. It tells us that how we feel is highly subjective, known only to us. And it isn’t necessarily observable to the world. And often the world is better off without knowing how we personally feel. And so are we.
So, polish this art. Because compliments are verbal sunshine!