On a personal level, compliments have always made me uncomfortable. From a young age, my ability to appreciate a compliment has been eclipsed by my inability to respond. Do I say thank you? Do I compliment back? What is the appropriate course of action?
Of course I should be thankful for the compliment and often times I am. But it wasn’t until recently that I really gave thought to the idea of both giving and receiving compliments and how more often than not, it’s a beautiful thing.
Why compliments count?
Lately I’ve found myself complimenting people at random. Not for the way it makes me feel, but for the sole purpose of brightening someone’s day. Have you ever given a small compliment, taken those two seconds out of your day and possibly changed the course of someone elses? If you haven’t, I urge you to try it. It doesn’t have to be a compliment about a physical attribute, saying you love your waitress’ necklace, or the cashiers shirt will suffice just the same.
As human beings, we often get lost in the shuffle of our own lives. Someone who seems to be shining outwardly, might be crying on the inside and your compliment no matter how small might be the spark that helps light the flame to get them through the day.
On a recent trip to Target (and I make those trips all too often!?), standing in a never ending line at the checkout counter, I witnessed the woman in front of me, visibly stressed from the line, her kids, the weather, who knows, act rudely towards the cashier and demand a manager. As the cashier grew more embarrassed and flustered, I waited. When it was my turn at the register, I complimented the cashier on how well she was doing and how well she handled the lady in front of me. It was as if the weight of the world had been lifted off her shoulders as she began to tell me that it was her first shift alone, she was new and feeling overwhelmed. I lamented that we’ve all been there and it would get better, as the woman behind me in line chimed in and said she was doing a wonderful job. A domino effect of sorts, the cashier smiled, said thank you and we parted ways. Did that small interaction, with no effort on my part change the course of her day? I’ll never know, and I’m okay with that. But for a few seconds, I could see that it helped.
So, do compliments count? I’d like to think so.
As Bruce Springsteen eloquently sang, “You can’t start a fire without a spark.” Be the spark in a strangers day. Smile more, be rude less, and if you’re looking for a pick me up, try complimenting that stranger next to you.