Can You Spare a Compliment?

I was listening to a segment the other day about high school students in Iowa sending compliments to fellow students via Twitter.  What a terrific concept!  After all, compliments cost us nothing but they are rarer than hens’ teeth in many people’s lives.  It’s very difficult for many of us to compliment others, especially if we look at the world like a fixed pie —  every piece given away is one lost.  This phrase comes from the study of negotiation.  When negotiators think that every gain for the other side is a loss for them, little is accomplished.  This may explain Congress.

Consider this, though.  If compliments are indeed rare, then they feel like small gifts — sometimes big ones — to the recipients.  Telling someone he did a good job or saying, “I wish I’d thought of that” can go a long way to make someone’s day.  When I hear from former students that they still think about what they learned in my classes or that they’ve kept my books or just thought of me today, I smile.  Just that small gesture can make a difficult day brighter.

And then there is the benefit of altering the culture of a group.  You may wonder why no one says anything at work or home about the good things you do.  Maybe the culture is one of not complimenting.  That will only change if someone — you perhaps — do otherwise.  Change has to start somewhere.

Why not try giving a few compliments tomorrow?  See how powerful they can be.  Don’t start with big ones.  Start small.  You may just make someone’s day!  Maybe even yours!

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