The Fine Art of Complimenting

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

– Plato

This is a time of year where there is typically so much more interaction and reflection.

Complimenting people is one of those fantastic social skills you either learn or develop over time. When done genuinely, it is like a verbal hug, that offers people warmth and lifts their spirits.

Some people are exceptionally graceful with compliments, sharing them as naturally as they breathe. In the right hands, it can charm, disarm, and put people at ease, as if by a piece of heartwarming music. They have become virtuosos with a compliment. 

You can do this, too. It merely takes practice, and opening your eyes to all the ways that a heartfelt compliment can make a positive difference in someone’s day.

Here are a few tips for how to get there. 

1. Compliments are free

The most basic thing to remember is that compliments cost you absolutely nothing to hand out. It’s like offering someone water from a lake that is continually replenished. And you never know just how parched someone may be as they go about their day, their week or even their year.

You may have broken a real dry spell for them, and your words of praise may be the only one’s they’ve heard in weeks. Imagine how that could make them feel – how much lighter, how much warmer?

2. When you hate a gift, be gracious

There are also many times, especially throughout the holiday season, when a kind word is called for and is simply more appropriate than calling out your daughter-in-law for not preparing the stuffing the same way you might have in your own kitchen.

Holding back the wrong words is as important as putting forth the right ones. It’s not all about you, or any burning desire to be “honest”, when it comes to sparing feelings. Hold onto your opinions, polish them, soften them and then deliver them kindly.

3. Empathize

Empathy is also a skill. If you get a chance to practice, you can get better at it. Everyone talks about the importance of empathy but it’s far better to employ it than talk about it.

For instance, think about how much it would mean for someone you know to hear how proud you are of them or how much their friendship has meant to you over the years. Those are not surface level compliments. They run deeper. Perhaps you think that they should be used sparingly or at the right times and perhaps you would be right.

But, you have lots of people in your circle who could benefit from similar sentiments. So, maybe it’s more a matter of widening the net and doing the most possible good when you can and where you can.

Final thoughts

Hard battles, as Plato observed, are being fought all around you every day. You can have impact in so many important and meaningful ways simply by being kind or by coming to the defense of those in need, those in all types of battles and skirmishes.

Don’t wait to be asked. Speak up. Speak true words but bear in mind their power to do both good or do harm, and plant your words with care.

Lisa Ryan LPC

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