Tomorrow, the 24th January is National Compliments Day – sounds fun doesn’t it… a day where we celebrate sincerely saying lovely things to people, I think we should extend it to an entire year!!!!!   The giving of the compliment is however, I believe, the easy part of the deal…. it is the receiving where I think we, certainly as British, have an issue.

We Are Great Compliment Givers…..

We are very happy to point out another’s loveliness, caring ways, helpfulness, attractiveness etc. and really mean it.   But when it is directed at you, or those close to you were you have had an influence (like kids) it seems to be a different story for most.  What follows the sincerely delivered compliment is usually one of the following:

  • A blush
  • A brush off – “Och it’s nothing”
  • A qualifier – “Oh this old thing, £5 from Tesco”
  • A bounce it back at them – “You look even better”
  • A justifier – “Just doing my job”
  • A nullifier – “Anyone would have done the same”
  • A straight disagree – “No I don’t”
  • A warning – “Looks can be deceptive, she’s a demon at home”

If you are like me, when you receive a compliment there is a wee something deep inside that screams “uncomfortable, I don’t deserve this, not worthy”!   And when I say screams, I mean SCREAMS!!!    There is also the wee voice (particularly in a sales environment)  that says “liar, you are just saying what you think I want to hear”  or perhaps the most torturing “what does he or she want” ….  Recognise any of those voices?

Turn this on its head, I absolutely love doling out a compliment, love, love, love it.   I love the reaction when I Christmas shop and at the end of any transaction I make a point of sincerely wishing the person who has looked after me a very merry Christmas and thanking them for their great service. Retail is like my industry, hospitality, bloody tough at Christmas, so they really deserve a compliment.   It always meets with startled look, almost like I am the first person to say this all day!

I love complimenting the lady in the tearoom who has gone to the trouble of having her nails done for her special trip to Pitlochry, or the teenager who has taken the time to learn how to apply her make up really well, or the gentleman who opens the door for his lady, or the parent whose child has lovely manners, or the parent who is bravely surviving the terrorist child, or the guy (or girl) who has spent thousands on having the torture of a tattoo or twenty, or the older lady who has just had her hair done for her break, …….  I think nothing of delivering a sincere compliment to them all.   And in almost all cases there is a resistance to fully accepting this for what it is, one human being nice to another.  Simple!

It All Starts With Our Parents, Teachers and Other Early Years Influencers ….

It is of course, I believe learned behaviour as we are growing up, I can certainly remember phrases like;

  • “Pride comes before a fall”
  • “Little girls should be seen and not heard”
  • “Don’t get ideas above your station”
  • “Have you seen enough” when you look at yourself in the mirror
  • “Vanity leads to insanity”

Now all of these lines were delivered out of love – a sort of insurance policy for you as you get older and go off into the great big hurtful world…. BUT, here’s the thing… what if they were wrong… what if there was no “fall” and people love hearing “little girls” and the very best ideas were waaaay above your “station”, and you could never get “enough” of a look at yourself, and maybe vanity IS sanity……    who knows they may very well have been wrong all along, let’s hope so.

My Challenge To You….

So here is my challenge to you tomorrow, on National Compliments Day, I want you to give 5 sincere compliments tomorrow – right from your heart, no agenda at all….  And just be conscious of how these compliments are received.  BUT, the bigger challenge tomorrow for you is, if you are on the receiving end of a complement, take a deep breath and just say “Thank you, that’s kind of you” and take another deep breath and exhale …  and that’s it.   Let it all the way in and just take that damn compliment!!!!

Tomorrow is National Compliment Day – make it count!