Quick Thought #17 – Most of Our Discomfort with Compliments Could Go Away, if it Were Common

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As I was reading this article the other day on the impact of kind words, a thought occurred to me.

The study seemed to be saying that there are multiple reasons why people might not give compliments very often.

One of those reasons is because of our own anxiety about approaching people we don’t know, like a speaker at an event, or who we don’t know very well at all, like some coworkers, etc. We’re afraid that our attempt at saying something complimentary will not be very good, so we don’t do it.

Secondly, and not entirely unrelated, is the fear of making the receiver of the compliment uncomfortable. That, rather than feeling good that someone paid them a compliment, they would instead be made to feel awkward, unsure of how to receive it. (Which turns out to be overblown, but I can see where it could still happen)

What occurred to me as I thought more about this study, was that both of these are easily fixable. Giving and receiving compliments would not be such an anxiety-inducing activity if we simply practiced it more often. It’s the fact that we so rarely give people compliments that makes this awkward, and when the kind words of a friend, or even a stranger, can have such an important impact on our days, and our own struggles with self-worth, this is hardly a thing that should be so rare.

So, here’s my challenge, for myself, and for you. The next time someone does a really good job on a project, is especially good at their job, or just looks sharp in a new outfit, tell them. Even if you don’t know them very well. It will matter to them, and you’ll get to practice something that will make you a better, happier, person as well.

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