When I’m having a tough day, there’s a special compliment I pull out and imprint on my brain….
It’s from a woman who emailed me saying: “I was receiving chemo and reading your book outloud. All of us in the room were laughing so hard, the nurse came to check on us.”
The compliment made me cry. Little did the reader know that I’d written the book for my mom. She died before I finished it. The reader’s words were balm to my soul.
My writing critique group analyzed the mysteries of what makes a GREAT compliment. The warm words you haul out when days are dark and the laughter is scarce?
Here’s a start. Feel free to add to the list…or even argue with it:
The Secrets of A WARM COMPLIMENT
Recognize the person’s character. It’s easy to say, “That was a (good meal, nice piece
of writing, kind gift, nice outfit….blah blah,whatever ).
So go one step deeper. Compliment the character trait. The willingness of the cook to take time to create such a tasty meal. Or the openness of the writer to share so deeply. Or the talent of the giver to craft such a lovely gift or outfit.
Anybody can give someone a piece of chocolate, But the compliment comes from recognizing the behind-the-scenes personal effort (thinking about them, spending time and money, and delivering it—that takes intent and concern. It’s like a kiss to the soul when someone else
recognizes the depth of your efforts.
Make the compliment specific. I like to hear the words, “Good job,” but I like it even better when someone says, “They way you describe this character makes me laugh and cry in the same sentence. “Nice smile,” becomes even more personal when it’s “Your smile makes me feel important.”
Do You appreciate it or not? I have a friend who hands out compliments in this manner: “It’s a good thing you’re small, or you couldn’t wear that dress.”
I have begun replying, “Is that a compliment or a complaint?”
C’mon. Don’t be stingy. If you appreciate something, commit to saying say so with, “I really
liked it when….” “It meant a lot to me when….”
Be genuine. I bet everyone has received a fake-O admiration. It’s like pouring sour milk over a conversation. Thanks for the Blaaaah feeling I get from your pseudo goodwill. If you don’t mean it–don’t say it. But surely there’s something positive you can say about a burnt meal or a bad hair-cut. Even if it’s about how they have the character to deal with it (eventually laugh about it??) and go on.
So now share with me please….
What’s a compliment you pull out on your crummy days? Why is it special?