We’re on to the next challenge in being a better lover in 2015. While some of our activities we have mentioned on our blog have a cost, with a compliment you only have to pay attention.
A well-placed compliment can change someone’s life. Most of us notice awesomeness, we just quietly appreciate it internally and keep it moving. However, a loving, thoughtful, vocal compliment can change the life of the giver and the receiver. Compliments activate the striatum in the brain which, for the recipient, feels the same as getting cold hard cash! The compliment giver’s brain is trained to positivity which makes him/her more attractive. Today is National Compliment Day but we could all benefit from giving good compliments every day.
How do you give a good compliment? Start with the intention of helping someone feel good, despite your feelings for the day. Praise is not a zero-sum game so noticing competence or excellence in someone else in no way diminishes your own. In fact, it will help minimize negative thoughts you may have about yourself.
Next, notice efforts. Telling her she has beautiful blonde hair is likely to make her smile but it won’t change her life because it doesn’t speak to anything she has done to get it. Either she was born with it or got it from Bjorn at the salon. Either way, it is not her achievement. However, telling her that she is great at choosing a cut that highlights her eyes is more meaningful.
Third, specifically address what is awesome. If your lover is a doctor or lawyer it is a given that they are smart because it is the nature of the professional beast. A more meaningful compliment goes deeper and speaks specifically to skills and abilities. For example, instead of “you are smart”, try your logical reasoning skills give me confidence in your ability to solve this and any other issue you have to face. In other words, compliments should stand out from the praise of others even if they are referring to the same awesome thing.
Finally, pay close enough attention to the people around you to notice incremental progress. If your lover has embarked on a weight-loss journey and he seems to be gaining more than he is losing, a false “are you losing weight” is going to be more harmful. If you cannot see the results applaud the disciplined decision-making at each meal or the consistency in workout to give the encouragement to go on.
Most important, deliver the compliment as if it is the last thing this person will ever hear (but don’t deliver it like Jimmy Kimmel’s cousin Sal).