What's the best compliment you've ever been given? It probably made you smile, right? The best compliments always do. There's nothing like knowing someone appreciates you, after all. A good compliment can brighten a day, can make you smile when you really didn't feel like it, and can keep that smile on your face for days, sometimes weeks.
What's the worst compliment you've been given? Not exactly a pleasant memory, is it? Maybe it was really awkward, or maybe it was meant well but hurt more than it helped. The world could use less of the latter kind of compliments, in my opinion. I know the giver doesn't always see the compliment's effect on you as you do, and they don't mean to hurt, but it still makes your smile falter a little and rolls through your mind for a while afterwards.
Compliments come in all shapes and sizes, just like the people who give and receive them. There's short compliments, long compliments, awkward compliments, genuine compliments, 'I'm being polite' compliments... I've been given them all. And you know what? Most of them, I didn't like one bit.
Before I get into this post any further, let me just say, this is not a post against compliments. I just want to explain a few compliments I've found are not as wonderful to the receiver as the giver thinks and a few suggestions as how to give a better compliment.
Okay, think about this. When you tell someone "You look beautiful today", you might mean it with the best of intentions, I understand that. You really think the person looks nice. But think about that wording. You look beautiful today. Not 'You are beautiful', but 'You look beautiful today'. You're only complimenting their temporary appearance at the moment? Don't you think they are beautiful the rest of the week, the rest of the year? Don't you think the person is beautiful, not just their looks? I'm not saying you can't tell someone you appreciate how they look dressed up, don't get me wrong.
Remember, looks are temporary. They can do their hair up nice, put on nice clothes, and a lady might put on makeup. But that doesn't make the person any more beautiful, nor does wearing their hair a mess, wearing comfortable clothes and a girl with nothing on her face make them less beautiful. It's the person you should be complimenting, not their appearance. Again, not saying you can't compliment when someone dresses up. But I think this kind of compliment does more harm than good most of the time, especially for younger ladies who are already struggling with their looks. A girl who wears no makeup is just as beautiful as the one who uses makeup to subtly enhance her natural beauty. A girl who loves wearing sneakers and tees is not less beautiful than a girl who goes everywhere dressed for tea. Clothes, jewelry and makeup don't make the girl, after all.
And please don't compliment someone on their size, shape or weight. It's just not necessary, and will make those around them self conscious about their weight. No one needs to hear someone thinner than them being complimented on being tiny and be made to feel ugly for their size. I know you can find something better to compliment someone on than this.
Instead of complimenting someone for their appearance (which gets old after a while anyway, you can only tell someone so many times they are pretty before it becomes a bland compliment they don't see as genuine), compliment their character or their attitude or their accomplishments!
How about this... The comparing compliment. The kind of compliment that compares the receiver to someone else and makes them feel like their competing for the attention. "You look just as nice as so-and-so". Let's just let this kind of compliment die, can we? Don't compare one person to another. God created each person to be unique, an individual fashioned to look like no one but them. Comparing one person to another is like comparing cupcakes to a whole cake, they're both the same batter and icing and everyone loves both equally because of it. Instead of comparing Joey's painting to Jimmy's when complimenting Joey by saying "I love the colors in your painting just as much as I love Jimmy's color choices" why don't you leave Jimmy out? Joey's painting deserves to be admired on it's own!
Awkward compliments, here's a category of compliments that make better jokes than anything else. They're not all bad. They come out sounding a lot different in words than they did in your head, maybe. Or they kind of get jumbled up and their meaning isn't quite what you expected. The harmless ones, I laugh them off, especially when it's little kids giving them. I've been complimented (at least I think it was intended as one) for the lines in my forehead, for my hair being a mess (I had worn it differently than I usually did) and for a variety of completely random things that I wouldn't have even thought of being compliment worthy by little kids. Those kind make me smile, and I stifle the laughter until I can get somewhere and let it go.
But then there's the awkward ones that just plain make you uncomfortable. Strangers telling you how beautiful you are multiple times, or people who find the oddest thing about you and try to compliment it and just make you cringe because you don't know how to respond. Perhaps the world will never be rid of awkward compliments of this type, but we can at least try not to add anymore to the long list that have been given already, can't we? Think long and hard about any compliment you might give that might not come out exactly as you meant it or might make the person uncomfortable and confused as how to respond, and if in doubt, forget about it all together.
Genuine compliments deserve a honorable mention. Sometimes they have a hint of the awkward in them, but when you boil them down, they're always given out of love by someone who genuinely wants to let you know you are appreciated. The best kind of this type of compliment is one for someone's effort or accomplishments. There's nothing like knowing something you have worked hard on has been noticed and appreciated by others. Whether it's a cake you've baked, a song you've sang, a skill you've perfected, or a little deed you thought went unnoticed... Someone letting you know they respect what you've done and think it's worthy of notice, that makes you feel good. This is the kind of compliment that needs to be given more often. Tell your friend when they've worked hard on something that they did a good job. Let your church family member know you appreciate their service every week working in the nursery or as a door greeter. Let your sibling know their efforts to keep the books straight hasn't gone unnoticed. Make sure your parent knows you appreciate that they made your favorite food when they had planned to make something else. Complimenting someone for something they have done will always be held in higher regard than complimenting someone for something they can't change like their eye color or appearance, in my book. I especially love to hear people complimenting others on things like their kindheartedness or their willingness to listen, because those traits are something that the person receiving the compliment has had to work on to develop and that deserves honor.
In short, here's a sort of checklist on compliments, courtesy of yours truly:
If you really like something someone has done, tell them. You might be the only one who lets them know you appreciate their efforts.
When complimenting a child on something they did, let them know you like it because they did something special. Focus on the child, not what they've done. Actually, do this for Anyone you compliment.
It's okay to tell someone they look nice, but make sure they know it's because they look nice, not their clothes or hair or makeup.
Don't compliment strangers or acquaintances you barely know, especially on looks and especially if they're a girl. Most times you'll just come off as creepy.
Guys, please don't ever, ever, ever tell a girl she is 'hot'. It is not the compliment you think it is. Find a word other than hot to describe a lady.
Girls, act like a lady if you want to be complimented like one.
Compliment a trait or skill that a person has developed rather than looks when at all possible because looks are temporary.
Never compare someone or someone's accomplishment to someone else or someone else's. Compliment them for their own worth, not because you think they're on the same level as someone else.
If you don't mean it, don't say it. This goes for everything, though...
You don't have to add flourish or flounces to a compliment. Be genuine, be sincere and be short, because it's almost always better than a five minute long speech.
Once you've paid a compliment, you don't have to repeat it. You said it once, you don't have to keep reminding them.
When given a compliment, just say thank you. You don't have to explain or say anything else. Smile and say thanks, that's all it takes. (And yes, I'm guilty of breaking this 'rule')
Laugh off the well meant but awkward compliments, and ignore or play off the ones that make you uncomfortable.
Don't give compliments that would make someone uncomfortable. If you wouldn't want someone to compliment you on it, don't compliment someone else on it.
And finally... Let's not touch people's hair when complimenting it, okay! Most girls will not appreciate someone messing up their hair, especially when it's done up fancy. You don't have to touch their hair to say it looks nice. You wouldn't want me to rub your eyebrows when telling you I like them, would you? (I know that's a silly comparison but think about how awkward that would be and keep your hands to yourself the next time to go to reach out and touch someone's hair, haha)
Okay, that's about it for now. Might I just say, as I get ready to go do the laundry and piece together my crocheted afghan, that I thank everyone who has told me who much they love reading my blog posts and for all the compliments about it. Those compliments are the only reason I keep coming back to write, especially when someone tells me the post I have written helped them through something going on in their personal life. You all are awesome and I'm blessed to have you as my readers!