The Power of a Compliment


I love this quote.  Mostly because I’ve seen time and time again that it’s true.

I did something on a whim recently.  There are a number of people using an app that allows people to anonymously tell you what they think of you.  I haven’t been brave enough to try it myself.  In the midst of all the friends that were posting their links for this app, I saw another post that intrigued me.  It was a picture that simply said, “Comment your name & I’ll tell you one thing I like about you.”  Now, I didn’t limit it to one thing in some cases.  And I intentionally avoided things like “you’re pretty” or “you have a good fashion sense”.  I tried to focus on character qualities I admired.

I posted it and the names slowly but surely started showing up.  It was actually quite fun to respond to each person!  Some of them I’ve known for years, some were family, some were students from my Michigan years, some were current FDSH students, . . . you get the idea.

What really struck me was some of the responses I got in return.  Some told me that they needed the boost, others said they had been having a bad day and my comment made it better.

But let’s be clear – there is nothing unique about what I did.  The compliments I gave were honest assessments of the best in those who I was speaking to. If others had given them, their power would not have been diminished a bit.  Anyone can see the best in another and call it out.

I didn’t expect the impact it’s had on me.  As I said before, some of those I was complimenting, I’ve known for years.  Others?  Not long at all.  In some cases, just over a year.  For those, it took a bit more careful thinking.  All in all, I responded to 57 people.  I had to spend time looking for the best in 57 individuals.  Not a huge number, I’ll grant you, but it took time.  And during that time, it kept my mind focused on finding the best in others.

So I cannot help but wonder – what would happen if we started giving just one sincere compliment to one person every day? What would it do for those around us?  What would it do for our own attitudes and perspective?  I would certainly love to find out!

Staying Power

Why is it that we can feel the sting of an insult years after the words were uttered but can’t remember a compliment someone paid us two days ago?!

Why do the vicious words of a middle school bully linger long into adulthood, leaving scars that we never forget?  And yet sincere compliments barely make an impression?

Whatever the reason, I’m tired of it.  I don’t know how to fix it, but I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of getting a compliment from someone and having some ugly, negative phrase from my past immediately sneak into my head to contradict the positive one.

I could tear your heart out with stories of the ugly things people have spoken into my life.  But I’m done.  Time to, as my father would say, re-write the script.  It won’t be easy.  It won’t happen quickly.  But it’s going to happen.

I’m going to focus on the positive things uttered into my life by those who have chosen to be a part of it.  As for those individuals who hang around because they see it as their job to fix me . . . them, I will politely ignore.

I don’t know why insults have so much more staying power than compliments.  But I’m about to change things up.