Here, There, and Everywhere: Pass Around More Compliments

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Parents complimenting a child.January 24 is National Compliment Day. Did I know that off of the top of my head? Absolutely not. But now that I do know, it got me thinking about the nature of compliments.

How often do we give them? Obviously, far more often than once a year. But do we give them often enough? When we do give them, are we expressing them earnestly? How are the compliments received?

Compliments are, in theory, very easy to give and should be given regularly. There is something that we witness every day that deserves praise.

We may watch as one of our children becomes more independent, trying to accomplish a challenging task without losing their cool. We may notice an awesome outfit a friend wears. We may hear a colleague contribute an eye-opening recommendation. We may see a neighbor sprucing up their gorgeous garden. Yet, I do not think that we pass out compliments daily.

According to Nicholas Epley, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago, “Compliments are the easiest way to make other people – and, as a result, ourselves – feel better. But when a kind thought comes to mind, people often don’t say it.” Researchers have discovered that people’s hesitancy to give compliments is defined by “a psychological barrier,” which causes people to negatively hypothesize about the reception of compliments.

Multiple studies indicate how compliments boost one’s well-being, so instead of being nervous about our delivery, we should know that our words elicit confidence! 

Last fall, a friend gave me an amazing compliment. We were driving back from a football game, and she said, “Thanks for a fun day. You’re such a connector!” She stated it casually and confidently as if it was something obvious. We had only been friends for a handful of months, and she got me.

In the hard-to-connect time that is COVID, she saw a part of my identity I tried my hardest to maintain. It was a simple comment, spoken in a few seconds, but its meaning still sustains me.

We’re approaching the two-year mark of living amidst a global pandemic. That’s hundreds upon hundreds of days where we have looked to anything to lift our own and each other’s spirits. Compliments help us continue to traverse each day.

Celebrate today to kick it off, but keep paying it forward. Here are 22 compliment suggestions for this year:

1. Leave a post-it for your spouse in their home office, work bag, or car, complimenting something seemingly ordinary.
2. Have a compliment pass along at the dinner table. One person starts and compliments the person seated next to them, and then each person continues until you make it all the way around.
3. Send an email to your boss, complimenting one of your colleagues.
4. Send an email to your child’s principal, complimenting how they continue to lead the school through another crazy year.
5. Have your child/ren write a just because note to their teacher, complimenting a lesson or activity.
6. Create a compliment collage for a friend or neighbor. Have mutual friends write compliments and then give the finished product to the friend.
7. Find a manager at a restaurant to share specific compliments about your server.
8. Compliment your regular barista/drive thru attendant on something you notice about their appearance (love your sparkly nails!) or how they bring you cheer (Charity still remembers how a McDonald’s employee handed her a peppermint mocha and said, “Love in a cup, my dear.”)
9. Compliment the chef in your house.
10. If you have a guest coming over, leave a complimentary note as a welcome on the door.
11. When your child shows you their latest work of art, compliment their style.
12. Send a complimentary message to someone you follow on social media. Tell them why you love their content.
13. Leave a glowing review at your local supermarket.
14. Compliment one of your parents about an aspect of their personality you admire.
15. If you work with children in any capacity, call home to share a compliment.
16. At the end of a play date, share a compliment when the parent comes to pick up the child.
17. Send fan mail to a local author, artist, actor, athlete, etc., complimenting their work.
18. Compliment yourself when you make any sort of progress on a goal.
19. Write kind words for anyone to find (slip a note into a library book, chalk the sidewalk by a public park, leave a post-it on a restroom mirror).
20. Compliment a religious leader for a moving sermon.
21. Compliment a new parent or big sibling for how well they’re adjusting to life with a baby.
22. Compliment a stranger. (After waiting in a long line, Jamie appreciated hearing a stranger tell her she had nice eyes).

What’s the best compliment you have received?

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Maria F. is a high school English teacher who naturally finds herself reflecting upon the beautiful struggles that accompany the routine and randomness of each day as a working mommy. She relies upon humor and some sort of chocolate or frozen treat as survival tactics. She and her husband live in East Norwalk with their three kids, Abbie (born 2012), Charlie (born 2014), and Phoebe (born 2018). You can find Maria F. driving in her beloved dream car, a minivan, listening to audiobooks during her commute or singing along to Kidz Bop as she shuttles her little humans around town.

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