How To Compliment

A stranger gave me a compliment today. Well, she kind of shouted at me, but it was still a compliment.

“OH MY GOD! YOUR HAIR IS BEAUTIFUL. You must get that all the time.” I jumped back at her kind gesture. Before I could reply, the woman she was walking with exclaimed,
“LOOK AT HER SHOES! Those are awesome.”

“Thanks,” was all I said with a laugh, but these compliment-ary women got me thinking about two random things.

1.) How wonderful it is to be appreciated.

This is not coming from a place of vanity. When someone does good work — and I’m talking at work, at home, in anything — when others notice and give you a thumbs up; what’s not to like?

It sounds hokey and maybe I’m a sucker for praise; but there’s something to this.

As I pull a muscle trying to recall a freshmen psychology course, I can vaguely recall a series of experiments where rats were rewarded with food if they pressed a bar — positive reinforcement. If they did something wrong (or the scientist was sadistic) they would be shocked with electric pulses from the bottom of their cages — negative reinforcement.

But there’s more to it than that.

From my take on humanity — which can be jaded based on the kind of day I’m having — I truly believe that deep down there is good in everyone. But, sometimes the world with the dumb to terrible things people do in it, can appear dark and bleak. So most of us aren’t trusting of others (how often have we been burned?) and withdraw into ourselves.

So when someone reaches out to someone else, even in the simplest gestures, to me it feel momentous.

2.) Honey. Sweetie. Dear.

Or, maybe those women pounced on everyone they saw with their praise. The kind of women who could call you — a complete and total stranger — honey, and it wouldn’t feel condescending.

Who are these type of women (or men)? I’m visualizing a big-buxom woman, who’s approachable and sweet and probably cooks amazingly and gives the best hugs.

Well, I did it once. I tried to call a complete stranger “sweetie” as we exchanged niceties as I gave her my place in line. As soon as the word left my mouth, I knew that what I had done was wrong. This woman looked at me for a moment and just said, “It’s ok, honey.”

So, in closing, while I have no intention to use pet names, I will do my best to offer genuine compliments to the people I meet. Furthermore, I promise not to shout at them as I do so.

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