Why Compliments Matter


It took me a while to sit on this egg, but now, it is ready to be shown to the world. I was thinking about two earth-shattering problems I wanted to solve, and I think I found a way of doing so.

Earth-shattering problem 1: Lately, I got some compliments, but somehow, I forget them after a while. That is a bad thing, because compliments can really work wonders.

Earth-shattering problem 2: It is hard to give good compliments! Try giving someone a compliment that will stick with them for a whole day, and not be put aside or forgotten, and then you will know how hard it is.

Let’s take one step back before I present my solution…

Problem 1: Remembering compliments

Why is it so important? Because a compliment can really bring about a change. The compliments that are most valuable were about things I am insecure about. And someone affirming that I am good at something that I am insecure about makes a big difference in my self-esteem. An unexpected or funny compliment also can make your day. I would like to give examples of the compliments given to me lately (not to pat myself on the back, but because examples usually make things more clear).

I dance in a group, and sometimes, I am insecure about how well I dance. We get a new teacher, every once in a while, and having to adjust to their way of moving usually makes me even more insecure. So here we were, working with a fabulous professional dancer, who made a beautiful choreography for us (you can see it here). I felt like a complete idiot and that did not exactly work wonders for my dancing qualities. Then, when we were standing backstage in the theater to perform this choreography, my groupmate E told me she, especially in this choreography, could not stop looking at me because she thought I danced beautifully. Well, you can imagine how this show we were about to perform went. I really felt like flying, and I guess people who looked closely would have noticed. Even months after, that compliment really can give me the confidence to work hard at dancing because I know at least someone thinks I am good at it.

Another example: My brother and I were talking about the characteristics a girl should ‘have’ for him to be interested in her (we did this in a very non-degrading way!). Suddenly, he said loudly: I think she should really be like you. Wow, that was a very big compliment. And while I was feeling great about myself, he added: but not with your personality. Haha! That was an unexpected twist! And even now, it still makes me giggle. But this compliment did something between my brother and me. He told me he really appreciates me. I understood what he meant with the second part of the compliment (my great personality), and we both felt happy and valued.

Problem 2: Giving good compliments.

Why is it so difficult to give good compliments? I think it is because, when we compliment someone, we do it in such a superficial way. We say things like ‘nice skirt’ or ‘great job’. And it is nice if we notice these things about other people and say them out loud. But what did this person do to do a good job? Which part of the job was done so well? If we would be more specific, I think our compliments would become better. And it would be easier for the compliments-receiver to understand what we mean and learn from that. So, instead of complimenting someone on their skirt, we could also say (if we mean it): you are very good at combining your clothes. This compliment has more impact than the skirt one. But it is also scarier to give the second compliment. You put more of yourself in the second one because you try to say more about the other person, and it is easier to feel like you said something wrong. So, if you say: ‘nice skirt’, and the other person says: ‘It was really cheap’ (recognize this reply??), that is the worst thing that could happen with a superficial compliment. But if you say: ‘You are very good at combining pieces of clothing into outfits’ and someone replies ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’, that actually feels much worse. So, the latter compliment is better, yet scarier.

Solution: The Compliments Guide

So, here (at last) I present the solution. I came up with the Compliments Guide. What’s in it? First, it contains two boxes. In the first box, you can keep all the nice compliments you received. In the second box, you can keep all the nice compliments you handed out. This will make you much more attentive to the compliments you are giving and receiving. You can cut out and fold these boxes yourself. Next, you also receive a short course about giving and receiving compliments. That’s all you need to try!

Let’s bedazzle the world with compliments, so everyone feels good about themselves and about the others around them! Let’s start a movement!

Do you like to become better at giving and receiving compliments? Then sign up for our 7 Days of Compliments Challenge next Monday. Next to the Compliments Guide you will receive a small assignment every day for seven days. And after the seven days? You might have gotten out of your comfort zone a little, and chances are high that you will be a real compliments expert. Join us and sign up here!

Image by stocksnap.io

Ellen is a passionate and practical happy living expert. She teaches subjects like ‘Consumerism’ and “Social Innovation’ at Tilburg University and has her own coaching company to help people find their sparkle again. As a life-coach, she tickles people into changing. As a teacher, she invites students to think outside the box. As a person, she is always trying to find ways to live more consciously, happy and light. And she gets really happy if she can share this with people! Her articles are about her own life, about the way she sometimes succeeds and sometimes fails in changing small things (that eventually might make a big difference). She will share with you her lessons learned, mistakes made and successes achieved when it comes to happy living. You can find more information about Ellens coaching company on her website and you can find more articles written by Ellen (in Dutch) on her blog.