A few months ago, a friend of mine called me from the airport. Her first words, after I said hello, were “I miss you. I have such fun traveling with you and talking to you on our trips.” I was so touched by her words because even though I am not fond of traveling, my friend and I had traveled together for a couple of different events during the year.
What stood out for me, besides the kind words, was the spontaneity of my friend’s acknowledgment. I hadn’t arranged her travel plans, paid for her ticket, or done anything “for her” in direct relation to her trip, yet thinking of me at the airport prompted her to call and the result was that I felt good inside.
This caused me to think about times in which others or I had unexpectedly complimented or acknowledged someone in our lives out of the blue. Not an acknowledgment because it was a holiday, or the person had provided a service or given us a gift, but simply because we were thinking of them and wanted to let them know they were special in some way. That their energy, friendship, love, or uniqueness had been noticed.
What would it be like to give the unexpected compliment?
A dear person in my life named Roberta told me the story of being out dancing with her husband. She was standing, waiting for him at one point and noticed a woman who was dressed in very unique way. Roberta approached this woman and told her how much she liked her outfit. The woman expressed delight and uncertainty at the same time in receiving the compliment. “Really?!” she exclaimed. “I wasn’t sure about it.” Roberta assured her that she looked great and then told me how the woman’s energy brightened as she walked back into the dance area. The verbal recognition by Roberta had given this woman, whom she didn’t know, a boost of confidence.
I like to believe that when we give someone an unexpected compliment, we are creating a ripple effect of good feelings. The person receiving the compliment feels good, which contributes to her sense of self. It reminds me of the “pay it forward” mentality. Instead of only “paying someone back” with an acknowledgment for something you’ve received from her, you pay a compliment “in advance” for being who she is.
Take a moment to sit and think about the people who are kind, make you laugh, are generous with their time, greet you with enthusiasm, or are just plain nice. Notice how your body feels when you picture that person. Does your heart feel warm, stomach feel tingly, or face move into a smile? While you are feeling whatever physical sensations you are, send that person an email, call her on the phone, or tell her in person how you feel about her.
Some examples of complimentary statements are:
“I was thinking of how you made me laugh all the time and I wanted to write and tell you that your sense of humor is a gift.”
“I’m calling because your ability to listen is something I treasure, and I want you to know it’s such a special quality.”
“I love you for being my friend and always taking my side at the beginning, even when I could be wrong!”
Any sincere expression of how you feel about that person’s unique qualities will be just right and there’s no time like the present to let her know that you notice.
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