Virginia Alice, author of "HONOR ONE ANOTHER: The ABCs of Embracing Our Spirit Within," writes about social media, wellness, and writing.
Compliments Can Make A Person's Day
When was the last time you received a compliment? How did it make you feel?
Receiving a compliment can make me feel like I’m floating on a cloud. Of course, it all depends on who has given me the compliment. If it’s my husband, my mom, a sister, or a friend, the feeling can last for hours or days.
But if the compliment comes from a stranger, it could be good or bad – depending on what is communicated.
The Effect of Compliments on a Relationship
Through the years, my husband hasn’t always given me as many compliments as I would've appreciated from him. When I have approached him about this, he has said it’s because he doesn’t want me to get a big head. In other words, he's afraid I might think I'm too good, or worse yet, start treating him shabbily.
My thought is that it's far better to give your love interest a compliment than for you to receive them from someone else. I would much rather get complimented by my husband than to think I’m not pretty enough, dressed nice, or "fit to be seen" out in public with him.
I have heard about relationships where couples have not given each other compliments, and over time, their union broke up. My guess is it was because they lost their spark for one another. Of course, there was probably more going on than anyone was aware of. But I have found compliments to be a good way to cement any relationship.
I think you need to love giving compliments as much as you love receiving them.
— Yami Gautam
How To Give and Receive Compliments
My question is, how does one give compliments that make a person’s day without it “going to their head” or becoming obligatory? And better yet, how can a person express a positive compliment without fearing the other person won't receive the intention properly?
Perhaps the answer lies in how it is given, why it is given, and who it is given to. An example would be in the case of a married couple. Either partner could keep a compliment short and sweet – and sincere. Not adding more words to it than necessary. Not reading more into it than was said. And not questioning its sincerity. Just taking it at face value with a simple, “Thank you,” in reply.
Sometimes, a compliment just needs to be given without any fear of expectation or hidden agenda. The benefits for giving a compliment in any relationship should far outweigh any negativity. Once a compliment is given, then a simple volley can be established.
When the other spouse, in turn, gives a compliment, it levels the playing field. Over time, each spouse can relax in knowing that compliments aren’t expected every day, allowing each compliment to be sincere and special, each time one is given.
Gratitude Versus Compliments
As my husband and I have grown together over the years, we have become freer with our compliments. Each day, we look for ways to thank each other for the routine things in our life. For instance, my husband likes for the kitchen sink to be free of clutter. So I make it a point to hand wash dishes more frequently. He, in turn, acknowledges my efforts with a thank you, or “the sink looks so shiny today.” I'll also commend him on his hard work in building our little guest cottage aka "Little Casita."
There are other ways a couple can compliment each other. Since we're now retired, our dress at home can get be on the casual side. So when we dress up for Sunday Mass, we make it a point to compliment each other on our choice of clothes. We also try to treat each other out for Sunday lunch, as a way of appreciating making our own meals during the week or giving the other "a break" if they did most of the cooking.
It's always the compliments from people you love that mean so much.
— Maria Bamford
Compliments Make Life Easier
Giving compliments seems so simple, but there was a time when it wasn’t that easy for us. We both worked full-time, each on different shifts. There were days and weeks when all we saw was a body laying in bed or the sound of the front or back door closing. At times, we even felt like strangers.
After those kind of years, we can appreciate the importance of a compliment. Once our son went off to college, we started to rebuild our relationship. And learning to give the occasional compliment was a relationship-saver.
To Compliment or Not to Compliment
If your relationship is important to you, you can find a happy medium in giving compliments until the right rhythm is found. Caring about your spouse means you won’t make them beg for one. You'll want to give compliments freely. It can be scary at first for some couples, but it'll go a long way to building trust and mutual appreciation.
For those couples, who find it easy to give their other half a generous and genuine compliment, I encourage you to share your story with others. The more those who struggle with giving compliments know about the importance of doing so, the sooner their love can be restored.
I never get tired of hearing compliments.
— John Lithgow
When Compliments Are Unwanted
Now for compliments that are not appreciated, and which can be disconcerting. What do you do when you're married or single and get an unwanted compliment? Do you cringe? Do you ignore it? Do you turn and walk the other way?
It’s been a long time since I’ve been complimented by a stranger. And here, I'm referring to a male. I've gotten compliments from women – usually on my hair, shoes, or outfit. Nice friendly and unthreatening compliments. Sometimes friendships have even started in grocery store lines from sincere and unthreatening compliments.
But when it comes to those given by a strange male - or even a friendly acquaintance if it seems questionable, I hesitate on how to act. Because of my “good” manners, I usually say, “thank you,” and hope this is the end of it. Usually, it is. But when it's not, I linger where there are other people nearby. I look to make sure the person has departed the area. And I’m always on guard, thinking how I’ll act if surprised by this person near my car or another part of town.
Are You A Complimentor?
A Final Word About Compliments
The important thing to keep in mind is to acknowledge compliments. If they're sincere, and received by you openly, the giver will be satisfied and happy you appreciated their words. It could be the first compliment the person has given. So, acknowledging it in a sincere way is very kind.
If the giver isn't a welcome person in your life, calmly acknowledge their words – without encouraging further interaction (depending on the circumstances) – is best. Discouraging more compliments is trickier; but if the compliment is meant to be sincere and nonthreatening – again, a sincere response is best.
Bottom line, most people love a compliment. Compliments make a person’s day, often inspiring them to pay it forward with compliments to the people they encounter along their way.
How do you feel about compliments?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Virginia Alice Crawford