“The more you compliment people, the less valuable your feedback is. I only pay a compliment when I really mean it. People take it more seriously that way.”
I recently heard that conversation taking place between two friends at a restaurant.
It took a second to compose myself. I was hoping the bewilderment I felt wasn’t brutally evident on my face.
It wasn’t the first time I’ve heard people say something along those lines. But every single time I hear that, my disgust for that perspective runs a little bit deeper.
I mean, we live in a world that’s hard enough as it is.
Life doesn’t give you a pat on the butt when you roll out of bed and pump you up with an encouraging “Go get ’em!” pep-talk.
Some days, depression weighs heavy and bed is your safe haven, while equally your pile of guilt.
Some seasons, you and your spouse are at war and can’t let your guard down low enough to pay the other a compliment or thank them for all that they do.
Some days, the demands at work are too great and you leave with your head hanging low and your self-esteem even a few notches lower.
Some seasons of life are lonely and it seems like you have no close friends and nobody cheering you on. You question if you’re just too much to handle.
Some days, the kids are wild and unruly and you feel like if you were a better parent and loved them more personally, they wouldn’t be acting like this.
Some months, things are tight financially and you skimp on groceries and feel like the biggest, most pathetic failure on earth.
Multiple people around us every single day are in the deepest depression of their lives. Multiple people around us, every single day, have just been fired, gotten a divorce, lost a loved one, let someone down, are being abused, feel like a failure, have low self-esteem or might be contemplating suicide.
Who are we NOT to give people compliments as often as we can?
It won’t solve their life problems, no.
It won’t take away their pain or free them from their anxiety.
It won’t bring their loved one back or cause their spouse to repent.
It won’t bring them a new job opportunity or save the deal.
But maybe, for just a moment, they will feel seen.
Maybe, if only for a pause in time, they will feel valued.
Maybe, for just a second, they will remember who they truly are.
Sure, I understand not wanting compliments to feel forced.
But how could they feel forced when someone in the world could benefit from your kindness?
Sure, I understand not wanting compliments to feel like flattery… to you or to them.
But how are they flattery if you intentionally take time to find something you genuinely like or admire about someone and point it out to them? If your heart in it is good, who really cares if they think it’s flattery?
From their smile, to the color they are wearing, to the way they did their makeup, it means something. To how well a mom handled her toddler’s tantrum at the grocery store, how personable the waiter is or how gracefully the barista deescalated the irate customer in line in front of you, it means even more.
You can find something good in everyone.
If you can’t, you aren’t looking hard enough.
Life is short and sometimes it sucks, so just give the stranger a compliment.