I thought the absolute best part of the Oscars last night was the new-and-improved way of introducing each of the acting nominees—with a thoughtful, sincere compliment. Not because I care about the acting nominees or getting their beautiful heads any bigger than they are (OK, so I do a little bit; I can’t help it), but because I think that giving and receiving compliments is a powerful way of connecting with other people. A compliment is another way of saying, “I’m paying attention. I see you.”
And while some people are better at it than others, a bumbling fool can still give an amazing compliment as long as it’s sincere. Here’s one of my favorite examples of this:
See? Bumbling Fool + Sincere Compliment = Much More Likable Fool.
That’s just the beginning, of course. Compliments have a way of changing the giver and receiver. By the end of the movie, he gets even better. Good golly, check out this knock-it-out-of-the-park compliment:
One of the best compliments I ever received came from my mom one day a few years back when I found myself having an increasingly frustrating situation at work. One day, when everything seemed hopeless and I feared that I would no longer have my job because I was either going to quit or get fired (and this was especially frightening because I was the breadwinner), I left work at the end of the day and drove to my parents’ house to pick up my kids. I unloaded all my stress and frustration on my parents minutes within walking through their door into the kitchen, bawling like a little child—their little child—in all of my despair. We talked for a long time; they listened intently. They gave me advice. Before I left, my mom gave me a big hug and said, “You’re a clever girl. You’ll figure it all out.”
It was an unexpected compliment that lit a fire within me. I remember contemplating that word—clever. I liked it. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought she was right. I rode that compliment all the way through the situation and everything worked out for the better.
I still like to think of myself as the clever girl who can figure it all out.
So now I have a question for you: what’s the best compliment you ever received? Or gave? Don’t be shy, I want to hear!