“You are so wonderful.
You are kind, empathic, intelligent, and strong.
You are so thoughtful. Considerate. Hardworking.
You did a good job on that meal.”
What’s it like to receive compliments like that?
Welcome? Awkward? Validating? Cringy?
How about this:
“When you bring me flowers and take out the recycling during my busy work days, I feel such tenderness and warmth towards you. My needs to be supported, nurtured and cared for feel so deeply met and my whole body relaxes in appreciation and gratitude for you.”
What’s it like to imagine receiving something like that?
No matter how you respond to the different examples above, as we head into a holiday season of gift-giving, thanksgiving and celebration, I’d love to remind you of a game-changer when it comes to expressions of gratitude and appreciation:
Remember to Reveal Impact: Focusing on how something positively impacted you is a deeper and often more meaningful expression than telling someone who or what they are.
Compliments are often just positive evaluations of what we approve of in other people.
They focus on who someone IS, not on what they did.
Compliments tend to be static, fixed and about someone’s character and identity.
So, if you’d like to enrich and enliven your impulse to praise and compliment others, here are some key elements to transform them into heart-felt gratitude and appreciation:
- Clearly describe what the person did, didn’t do, said or didn’t say.
- Describe how you felt as you experienced this.
- Describe the needs of yours that were met–the way in which this positively impacted your well-being and your life.
- Focus on celebrating how this person powerfully contributed to making your life more joyful, better, safer or happier (not on evaluating their “goodness” or approving of them.)
- Stay in a place of celebration of shared humanity: not on superiority (“Yes, I approve of that behavior in you”) or inferiority (“Aww, you’re so much better and greater than I am.”)
It might sound like this …
When you started clearing the table after lunch today, I felt such warm appreciation for the sense of co-creation and collaboration that I experienced during cleaning up together. It was such a joy for me to spend time with you in that way. Thank you.
When you called me to check in yesterday, I was relieved and encouraged by our conversation. It helped me feel so much more connected to my values and my goodness, and set my day off on a positive and playful note. Thank you.
One last thing.
Am I saying all compliments are bad?
No, of course not.
A well-intended, heartfelt compliment can be enriching and meaningful under the right conditions. Remember, it’s not about the actual words or semantic formulas that we use, it’s about the energy and intentions underlying what we say.
Tune into the energy and consciousness beneath any compliment you are receiving or giving: is it warm, open, genuine, and coming from a place of real celebration and enjoyment of life? That’s the real thread of gold to be attuning to – not the precise words or structures.
So, I’ll end this week with an invitation to remember your goodness, your light, your ability to make life more wonderful for yourself and others. Say thank-you often, and allow gratitude and appreciation to infuse your days.
“We are born of an extraordinary light, and have within our hearts the tools we need to rise above this world, to transform our suffering and that of others. We can consciously and courageously claim a different experience for this planet … when love and forgiveness replace blame and retribution, we will have begun construction on a new and better world.” Marianne Williamson, Everyday Grace.
When’s the last time you received a compliment that made you feel really seen? When’s the last time you gifted someone with a compliment that helped them feel truly seen? Let us know below!