February 22nd, 2012

Random Acts of Compliments

I recently read somewhere (probably something I saw on Pinterest, let’s be honest) that the #1 sure-fire way to get people to like you was to say what you were thinking. Well, the nice things that is. Think your coworker is doing a great job? Say it. Think your significant other looks hot in that shirt? Verbalize.

I think it definitely works with those that you know. I go NUTSO HAPPY when I get random, unexpected compliments from Big Daddy. A nice comment I’m not expecting goes a long way for me. But what about when someone you don’t know says something nice to you?

When I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, I took took an art class at someone’s house after school. There was a class before mine for younger kids. When I was walking in one day – I remember distinctly, the wind was blowing my hair – one of the younger class girls looked up and me and said “you’re beautiful.” I thanked her and walked inside, but it stuck with me. Clearly, for years. It made me feel amazing to know someone saw a moment and had to mention it.

Four years later, I was stumbling through my first year of college. I had just lost my father and joined a sorority. I was in a single dorm and having trouble sleeping. I had a whole new lifestyle among gorgeous women in my sorority. I had left the small, comfortable feeling of high school and little New Jersey town and went down to the land of pretty blonde southern ladies. I didn’t feel confident- I felt lost. To set myself apart, and possibly due to the trauma of losing my dad, I dyed my hair dark for the first time. I felt plain and boring either way, compared to my surroundings.

Plain ole college webcam KJ

At my summer job, I was talking about this very issue with my coworker. She was a grandma, about 5-7 years from retirement, and one of the most encouraging people I knew at the time. She asked why I was keeping my hair dark (she loved me as a blonde) and I went on about how I couldn’t hold a candle to the southern blonde chicks that ran around my North Carolina campus. We had a conversation about this for a while. I went back to filing when we finished talking. I hadn’t noticed that there was a stranger in the area while we talked. I think he was there to move out the files that needed to go to storage- something like that. He was a big, burly black man wearing one of those belts you wear when lifting heavy objects. When I moved to a different area to file, he approached me. I was too surprised to remember what he said verbatim, but it was along the lines of that he had heard what I was telling my coworker, and that he thought I was beautiful and to not ever doubt that or compare myself to others. It did not come across as a line or him trying to come onto me… it was genuine. I thanked him and have never forgotten that.

I ended up dying my hair blonde again that summer… for what it’s worth.

The point of this story? I have held onto these moments. Not even so much because what was said was meaningful, but because it was said by strangers. How often have you thought something complimentary about a total stranger, but kept it in? Not just “I love her bag!” but stuff like “she has the most gorgeous hair color,” “I would kill to have boobs like those,” “What a hottie!” or “They have the perfect nose.” It might sound awkward to say some of that to someone, but even sharing to an extent could make someone’s day.

If I knew everything like this that everyone has thought about me, I bet it would be a huge boost. Granted, I’d never want to know the nasty thoughts people have about me as I walk by. Probably mostly on no-shower-Sunday. But the good stuff, definitely.

Think about how much you judge others, and how often they these judgements or thoughts are jealousy/admiration/lust/awe. I just tell myself that others think the same thing about me now and again. And that feels good. I’ve also been trying to tell people how I feel or what I think if it’s positive, instead of holding it in.

So that’s my challenge to you all, too. Don’t hold it in. If you think it, and it’s nice, then say it. You could make someone’s day… and someone might even remember it for the next 10 or 20 years.

15 comments to Random Acts of Compliments

  • What a beautiful post. I agree that those little moments can make a difference in someone’s life. I can’t like – a small part of me always thinks of that Mean Girls scene, but there is hope in me that some of it is genuine :)

    Love you!

  • This post makes me want to give you the world’s biggest hug. You’re absolutely right, random acts of compliments are the best! I’m definitely trying to say nice things more often, like writing positive comment cards for good experiences in stores.

  • You’re so right. I remember bits and pieces of compliments I’ve received over the years. Challenge accepted :)

  • Beautiful post. It’s so true! Who cares if it’s awkward if it makes someone’s day?! Worth it, in my opinion.

  • Twinner

    Such an insightful post, Twinner. I want to make an effort to be better about this.

    Also, I am such a bitch about receiving compliments. Like if someone says ‘you look skinny!’ I say ‘ugh. optical illusion.’ LOL I’m so fun. I need to give more compliments and also work on receiving them.

    Love you!

  • Love you girl. You rock at LIFE!!

  • I love love love you for this post. You are 100% right. The smallest compliment can stick with you.

    The woman at the register at Hardee’s a few months ago said I was beautiful and it really warmed my heart.

  • I love this post!!!! So, so true and yet so, so sad that as I sit here trying to think of the best compliment I’ve ever gotten…. most of the insults come back, LOL. No, that’s not true… Yesterday my friend exclaimed, “How can you be so pretty even after sweating?” after our pilates class… Ah, nice to reflect on the good ones! :) Good post, KJ!
    My favorite compliments are when a random stranger says that read my blog and love it or something like that! :)

  • Nice words go a long way! If only everyone could be a little nicer, the world would be so different… lol

  • I really need to try harder to do this – you’re right, those things really stick with you!

  • MK

    I totally agree! In fact, I tend to take it one step further…sometimes I’ll even lie. I’ll tell someone I love their shoes even if they’re just okay. Because I know how happy it makes me feel when someone does the same to me, even if they think my shoes are just ok too :)

  • Loveee this post Kelly! And you are so right – compliments totally stick with you. I try to point out nice things on people when I can, but on the other hand, I do know that I don’t make the effort to speak up all the time. On Friday night there was a girl (probably in high school) waiting in the lobby of the restaurant Justin and I were at: she had such a great outfit on…totally appropriate for her age too, which is HARD to find around here at least. I allllmost said something to her, but for some reason I got intimidated to walk up to her when she was in a big group with family/friends. I tend to be bolder when someone is alone. Haha!

  • […] recently talked about random acts of kindness. I sent someone a card after I read that post. Some day I will meet her (doesn’t your husband […]

  • Southern Fried Pugs

    A sincere compliment and a smile are free and can have the most amazing impact on the receiver. Sometimes, that smile and compliment are the only positive thing that has happened to that person all day. You may not immediately see the impact of your smile, but it reverberates throughout the universe.
    When my life is getting out of control and I’m stressed out, I try to remember to smile and say something nice to someone else. It forces me to focus on someone else and not my problems for a few seconds. Sometimes those few seconds are all I need to clear my mind. Not to get all nerdy, but even science is behind this. Smiling and saying something sincerely positive uses a different part of your brain than the negative, stressed out part. So when you do that, you are actually changing your brain chemistry. Not quite Xanax, but free and fewer side effects!

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