The Value of Random Compliments

I was so busy yesterday, I was barely in my office, so no post.  Daisy’s continuing to make progress, but it’s going to be a long haul.

SO, I have been seeing a crapton of posts lately talking about self hate, particularly among women.  Some of them are challenging it.  Some just discussing the issue.  Some were engaging in it.  What’s up with that?  Why are women so prone to self-hate?  Women will say things of themselves that they’d never tolerate being said about their friends.  And many will engage in intellectual discussions railing against this practice and then still not realize they engage in it or hold some kind of funky double standard wherein they unconsciously criticize in other women, that which they lack themselves.

In this climate of negativity, I wanted to offer up some positivity and tell you a story.

Growing up (well, okay junior high and high school), I was incredibly self conscious about my smile.  There’s nothing wrong with my teeth (after two sets of braces, there better not be), but I was HORRIBLY aware that my nose flared when I smiled.  I don’t know why.  I guess I exhale hard when I’m doing it or something.  I saw a series of pictures of myself (which I tend to hate under the best of circumstances) with nostrils flared wide, like some kind of race horse in the final stretch of the Kentucky Derby.  I was horrified, and it made me just not want to smile in public, period.  I was too embarrassed.  On top of my thunder thigh body issues, this was just too much.  It lasted for several years and just did not make me feel good about myself.

And then someone said something to me.  I don’t remember now who it was or when exactly.  Senior year maybe, or my freshman year of college.

“You have a smile just like Julia Roberts.”

It was just an offhanded remark someone made.  But it changed everything.

See, I happen to think Julia Roberts is gorgeous.  I LOVE her smile.  She looks so happy and confident.

So somebody comparing my smile to hers was a HUGE confidence booster for me.  I started smiling again, unabashedly so.  And that increase in confidence started generally pouring out in other areas.  Because, you see,confidence is attractive no matter WHAT you look like.  Human beings are hard wired to respond to that.  So I got more confident and people started responding to me in ways that made me feel like a more attractive person (thunder thighs and all), which in turn boosted the confidence, and created this awesome cycle of positivity.

I felt GOOD about myself (not in an I’m God’s gift kind of way, just in a healthy psychological way).  All because of an off hand compliment someone made.

I’ve never forgotten that, and I go out of my way to try and do the same for others.  If I think someone has beautiful eyes, or a great smile, or a fabulous hat, I say so.  There’s a checker at a local grocery store here who takes such pride in her work and is such a pleasure to see (because how often do you see such an attitude in service jobs?) and I told her one day, “You’re simply lovely.”  She got flustered and blushed and it obviously just made her morning.  And then that totally made mine.

So if you think something positive about someone, TELL THEM!  We don’t have enough positivity and praise in the world.  Let them know and pay it forward.  The world would be a better place if we all said what we were thinking when it’s the GOOD stuff.

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24 comments

  1. Wonderful post Kait, and here’s a confession: when I feel shy or just at a loss to what to say I always blurt out a compliment (and honest one, one I really think) to the person I’m talking to. Usually it breaks the ice and it feels good to see that I made them smile/or made their day.

    Great story, I have a similar: I am 5’8 and always considered myself the rather Amazon-type woman (loike Katherine Heigl, tall and not skinny), and at the end of high school someone mentioned in an offhand remark how despite being a brunette I reminded them of Gwyneth Paltrow since I was so willowy and graceful!! my jaw hit the ground, those were two words I never would ahve used to describe myself, so after that I thought a bit that maybe my self-perception differed from what people saw of me. And since Gwyneth Paltrow is lovely, that was one of the best compliments I got 😀

  2. Oh how I agree with you, Kait. I have a pretty healthy dose of self confidence even though I’m not really happy with my looks. But people generally LIKE me and that makes me happy. And the guys here at work compliment me a lot (they like my looks better than I do, LOL) and that really helps. And they tell me how the company couldn’t run without me. 🙂 Those things they say mean more to me than they know. I think we should take every opportunity to compliment people whenever we can, just like you did with the grocery story checker. It makes people have much better days.

    Btw, I’ve always thought you were very pretty, and I’ve even told other people that. And I’ve never noticed your nostrils. LOL

    1. Me neither, Lauralynn – I think Kait’s got a very classic, yet exotic beauty. (Read: she’s hot) I don’t even run that way and I think that. Nostrils schmostrils. 🙂

  3. Wonderful post, Kait! 😀 I too love to make people smile. Random compliments are such a boost for people. Every once in a while, I run into someone that doesn’t like them, but it is very rare.

    P.S. Just looked at your photo and you do have a beautiful smile. 😀

    Have a wonderful day! 😀

    1. I’ve witnessed this on occasion as well. In some of my less happy school experiences, I actually was that one who didn’t like being complimented…. It was a trust issue. I wondered what the “trick” was. Some people never outgrow high school maybe? Or some weird fluke event got them thinking negatively that day and they simply couldn’t deal with the conflicting emotions…

      The thing is, a random compliment needs to be honest, or then it’s meaningless. Most people can tell the difference without even thinking about it. We “know” when someone is sincere even if we don’t know why. But, I also think it’s easy to compliment a stranger… People are really amazing, and there’s always a new something remarkable and good to see in everyone each day.

  4. It was such a lovely thought to post this and something that made me think. I enjoy doing good deeds, but I’m more likely to do things when no one’s looking, or things that require a minimum of interaction. Like if I see an older person or a woman with small children unloading a shopping cart, I’ll try to time my walk (I always park away well away from a store) so that I’ll just happen to get there at the right time to offer to take the cart for them. That kind of thing. But complimenting? Not really good with that. Sometimes I’ll even be thinking one in my head and waiting for the right moment to get it out, but it never happens.

    I think part of that is that I’m not so great on the receiving end. Especially when I was younger, I sucked at taking compliments because I just flat out didn’t believe anyone meant them. The perceived disingenuousness didn’t bother me–it’s nice if people go out of their way to say something nice to you either way. But it was hard for me to thank someone for praise I didn’t deserve. (Yes, issues, we know.)

    So anyway, your post made me think that, when I’ve already got the compliment cued up and rehearsing in my head, I need to make the extra effort to get it to come out of my mouth.

    PS. for most of this post, I was going WTH? Did you have nose job between then and now because your nose is freakin’ adorable.

  5. I agree, Kait!
    I find, in general, people find it easy to say negative things. “darn traffic” “stupid SIL” “crappy weather” etc. So I try hard not to do that and to balance things by making positive comments as often as I can.

  6. Great idea. I’ll start now. . . . Kait, you rock. You are always polite and professional in social media, and you’re a fantastic writer. I still talk about RED to anyone who will listen. Thanks for the excellent work you do. Social media is a better place for your presence.

  7. I love, love, love this post! I agree, a small bit of kindness and positivity can lead to a very big change. I’m going to remember this. Thanks for sharing your story–I agree with dear Piper–you make the worls a better place. 🙂

    Angela

  8. “world” I mean. But Ha, I’m not even going to let that typo get me down. See, your post is working!

    Have a great weekend!

  9. I never understood why you felt your nose flared! You were perfect to me in every way, and I was and am still thrilled to call you “daughter”. I am very proud of you.
    Your Mom

    1. Possibly the pictures that set me off on that path were taken during allergy season when I was struggling to breathe. Which, you know, is like 8 months out of the year here…

  10. Pretty awesome post Kait!! My nose spreads when I smile and I hate it!! I’ve made my poor husband sit and watch me smile slowly so he could watch it spread 🙂
    I love giving compliments. They usually spill from my lips w/o much thought. It’s the one area I tend not to hold back. An area I can improve in: receiving compliments, b/c rarely do I agree. Guess I’m pretty mean when it comes to me and that takes me back to your post.

  11. How interesting, Kait! I have never much liked my nose. It’s on the side of big, shall we say. And then a guy in college told me that my nose had character. He said that it wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill nose, but an interesting feature on my face. That comment has stuck with me.

    I’m still not crazy about my profile, but I don’t feel bad about my nose. It’s just a part of me — part of what makes me, me.

  12. Nice post. I read it at the right time and thank you. I see these pictures on this blog and everyone of you are beautiful, I can’t understand why you think otherwise.

    1. 🙂 Well, I don’t know many people who actually felt that way in junior high and high school. I think most of us went through a phrase when we felt like freaks or unattractive or whatever. The acne years. The hormones. The gawkiness. 😀

  13. I was googling the subject of compliments and came upon your post. Much wisdom in your words. Thank you. In addition, let me add, as it has lately been on my mind….Many people benefit from the value of the random compliment when they are on the receiving end.
    More, I think, should cultivate the ability to return the favor. I wonder sometimes if people worry that they will appear weak or somehow vulnerable by paying the odd, specific compliment. I find it empowering to lift someone’s spirits with the ‘Value of the Random Compliment”.
    Thank You, again and….
    Well Said!

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