Friday, January 31, 2014

On Being Generous with Compliments

Share a compliment! It could change the world!!

Well, maybe not. But I'm sure you've noticed the surge in pins, posts, websites, and general enthusiasm surrounding random acts of kindness.  

As a champion of Big Hearted Families, I approve, obviously, though I'd rather spend my energy on  targeted acts of kindness. "Share a compliment" has shown up on my own lists from time to time, and it nearly always appears on any other compilation of simple acts of kindness.

Can I tell you  a secret? I've never been a fan of this one. 

Random compliments feel forced to me, socially awkward in a way I can't embrace.They also seem like literally the least you can do. "Share a compliment" seems like the most slothful of kindness directives, except possibly "open a door for someone." That also ends up on a lot of lists, and every time, I must stifle an eye roll.

To be honest, though, I'm generally filled with enthusiasm, so most of the time compliments pour forth without effort, the natural, meaningful kind. I'm glad they do.

It's easy to forget or overlook the impact small words can have on a persons' outlook.

Yesterday I was offered two compliments. These were the best kind; they were about my daughters. 

A school staff person remarked about how grown up and charming Miss Third Grader is whenever she deals with the teachers and staff at her school. 

Then she told me a story about Miss Kindergarten - a girl I've tangled with more than I'd like to lately. Miss Kindergarten was helping the teacher clean up after a craft project, and when she grabbed one sheet of paper to toss it in the bin, another kindergartner raced over from his play and began yelling that she was throwing away his art. I was told that in the face of his anger, when many kids would naturally yell back, my girl just smiled calmly, told him his picture is beautiful, and apologized for its near demise.

These two small compliments were wonderful to hear. They helped me look with new eyes at my growing little ones and gave me a window into their school personalities that differs from the language of a conference.

We never know what those around us struggle with, the nagging worries that we all carry throughout our day. But you can be certain that an honest compliment can ease the burden, at least for a moment. It just may transform someone's perspective.

So I'm off to look for compliments to share.

Max, you're putting on a great show with your red balloon!

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