The art of paying a compliment is in serious decline. It may soon become extinct if the issue is not immediately addressed. There are far more fault-finders in America than those who generously dispense compliments.
We all have an ego that suffers from some degree of malnutrition. A well-intended compliment can do wonders for someone with low self-esteem. Psychologist, Jon Flodin, has suggested that the reason some people have difficulty complimenting others is that it points up their own inadequacy.
Some compliments are gratuitous –- given with tongue-in-cheek. By itself, a compliment is meaningless. It must be offered in a context. Consider the word, “love.” What does it mean? Only the way in which it is used determines its meaning. The same principle applies to a compliment.
From an economic standpoint, hairstylists compared the tips they got when they complimented their customers versus when they did not compliment them. This same principle applies to every business or profession. Compliments are a rewarding currency of exchange, an incredible bargaining chip.
The Earth would be a much better place if it was stricken by a pandemic that maximized compliments and minimized criticism. All forms of negativity would paralyze.
Aside from the psychological pleasure one derives from receiving a sincere compliment, it delivers physiological benefits. When someone tells you of a very sad incident, do you cry because you are sad, or are you sad because you cry? Mind and body are inseparable. Maya Angelou may have had compliments in mind when she wrote, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Words trigger thoughts, thoughts trigger feelings, and feelings trigger behavior. We should all make a concerted effort to compliment people more often. What you consider unimportant, or insignificant, might be very important to someone else. You can never be sure where someone is in their thinking and the compliment that you give can truly be a life saving gesture. It doesn't cost anything to compliment someone. It is an incredible bargain.
Compliment somebody today!
- Professor Eisenberg was born in New York City and now lives in Belleair Bluffs. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II. His career consisted of teaching interpersonal/intercultural communication, public speaking, organizational communication, nonverbal communication, group dynamics, and persuasion at four major universities including Pace University and Manhattanville College in New York. His publications include fifteen textbooks on various aspects of communication. Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.