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…New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 – more compliments, please!

Everyone eagerly shares new years resolutions in the first weeks of every new year. Spending more time with their family, doing sports and quitting smoking are at the top of the list. But how about a new years resolution that is actually doable? How about giving more compliments in 2012?

A new years resolution that is easy to achieve and can make a difference in others peoples’ lives as much as your own would be giving more compliments. People nowadays almost seem to be afraid of paying compliments. Especially young people seem to find it hard to accept a compliment and even harder to give one.

But why are compliments so unpopular? Is it so hard for us to believe that somebody else likes something about us? Are we too afraid to give compliments because the other person will think we are trying to hit on them or even ‘worse’ that we are sleazy?

Online advice on compliments: ‘You’re definitely the hottest in your group!’

The Internet is full with websites advising how to give compliments. These tips are mainly intended for single men, who are on the lookout for a girlfriend or an affair. The website Askmen for instance advises men to tell a woman that she is the hottest in her group of friends. Any female will “lap it up like a starving kitten with a saucer of fresh milk”, promises the article.

Reading articles such as on Askmen, it is not surprising that some might see giving compliments as a sleazy business. Hardly any websites give advice on how to compliment someone in a non-sexual related context. Which supports the idea, that paying friends, family or, God forbid, someone we don’t know closely, is something highly unusual.

Compliments make people happy

"I like how you take care of people"

According to German Psychiatrist Gabriele Schennen, there are two kinds of compliments. The ones that are used to manipulate somebody else are one of the reasons so many people distrust compliments. The other kind of compliments, given for the sake of making somebody smile and meaning exactly what they say are something very positive.

“An honest compliment can be like a verbal present to somebody else, lightening up their day”, Schennen explains. As with any present, it’s only a success if the recipient accepts and enjoys it. “Just like with real presents, some people might find receiving a compliment stressful, because they think the other person will expect something in return.”

Compliments shouldn’t be patronising

The challenge with giving a good compliment, Schennen says, is not giving it in a patronising but rather a casual manner. “Sometimes just saying ‘I really like how you did this’ is a good compliment” advises Schennen.

Compliments can raise our self-esteem through giving us the opportunity to look at ourselves favourably through somebody else’s eyes. Meaning, if someone else thinks it’s cute that I am short-sighted, maybe I won’t be as critical about how I look wearing glasses. Schennen suggests that, “compliments can work as positive reinforcement, through showing us our own quality, our own capital.”

Psychiatrist Gabriele Schennen says, compliments can create a positive atmosphere

The best compliment a friend gave to Schennen was, that time spent with her was more valuable than any other present she could have given her friend. “Compliments can be something personal” admits Schennen, which is exactly why they have the potential to deeply touch us. Giving a sincere compliment is like giving chocolate – it can unexpectedly sweeten someone’s day.

How to receive and give compliments:

  • Learn to enjoy sincere compliments
  • Answer a compliment with a simple ‘thank you, that’s nice of you to say’
  • If you keep rejecting compliments, people will stop giving them
  • Pay attention to others, notice what you like about them
  • Don’t be afraid to give compliments, you will probably make someone’s day with your compliment
  • Only compliment things you honestly like

A sincere compliment can make somebody's day

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2 comments on “…New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 – more compliments, please!

  1. ..m-m..I am not sure it’s a good thing to let compliments play a role in the way person feels about himself or herself..this would encourage person’s dependence on others’ views of them..and isn’t it one of the things that we try to avoid..

    ..which does not mean that we should not appreciate compliments..just as long as we don’t forget that they are all about impressions – perfidious things..:)

    • Hi,
      thanks for the comment! You’re of course right, that we should not ‘just’ depend on other peoples opinions to make ourselves feel good (or bad for that matter). The point I was trying to make was a slightly different one, which is, that a compliment can open up the chance to see yourself through somebody else’s eyes in a positive light. Of course, the ideal would be to feel good about ourselves just because we have a healthy amount of self-esteem, but many people are quite critical towards themselves and then a sincere compliment could potentially help.
      Having said that, I still do believe that an honest and sincere compliment is a good thing to give/receive, not just because positive reinforcement but because it’s nice to appreciate others and equally nice to be appreciated 🙂
      -Viv

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