It seems that most folks, whether they are famous or not – artists, writers or just the average Joe – are reluctant to accept compliments without expressing some reservations or questioning the motives behind them.

Why did that person compliment me? I don’t know them! What do they want? Why would they do that?

We are, for better or worse, a skeptical bunch nowadays. Rather than our first instinct be to say, “Thank you,” it becomes an inner inquiry: “What does the person who made the compliment get out of saying that?”

As sad as it makes me to have my motivations be under this type of indirect assault, I forge ahead with my mission to spread honest, ego-boosting, reassuring, and occasionally humorous compliments to people around me. I take into consideration that my motives & sincerity will often be questioned, but have found if I stay consistent with my complimentary nature, after a period of time, people tend to recognize that I’m either completely mental but (mostly) harmless, or I’m simply a nice person wishing to spread confidence, laughter, and joy to others. Santa’s got his bag of toys; I’ve got a million ways to say, “You rock.”
For me, it all begin during my training for a customer service position when I realized one of my talents is forming sincere & honest compliments to bestow on tired, pissed-off customers. I realized that by doing so, I provided that person some relief to the constant negativity that bombards most of us daily. Back then, there was definitely an ulterior, self-serving motive behind the compliments: I was trying to appease my customers. However, when I left the job, I found I missed forming & giving compliments. So, I set up a challenge to my self to compliment people who looked like they needed a lift, smile, or laugh every day, with no motive or expectations.
After seven years of doing this, as my tiny way of trying to make the world a little bit happier, I have learned to adjust to the type of reception I get from people. Most responses I receive are surprise combined with disbelief, but the recipients are generally appreciative. It’s a nice, unexpected little surprise in someone’s day.

My favorite responses are generally from men who assume I’m coming on to them. I must admit I chuckle when that happens; it’s not just far from the truth of why I offer these compliments, and I really do have more game than that (since how obvious would that tactic be)? However, it does provide a stepping-off point for some back and forth between that I enjoy. It’s resulted in some decent friendships once the guys catch on that the conversation is not quite progressing in that direction, but remains enjoyable.

Over the past year (since losing my father in June), I’ve found myself specifically seeking out talented writers and playing cheerleader for them on twitter. I was shocked to find so many new talented writers, gifted with sheer genius and the self-esteem regarding their writing existing at the level of a high school student. My father was a published poet and being my father’s little writing cheerleader, I found a new purpose of my complimentary mission to encourage these artists. But Perhaps, since my father was a poet and a published writer, I was casting about for comfort and trying to regain this lost connection with the people who play skillfully with language.

And so, over the past couple of months, I seem to have wavered from the ostensible purity of my mission, and there has been some motive behind the compliments I’ve given. I don’t feel that I have failed, or misled anyone; it took a minor epiphany on my part to realize what I’d been doing subconsciously.

The joy of being able to compliment anyone, for any reason, really is its own reward, at least for me. Why not give it a try for yourself?

 

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