You want to make the other person feel good. You want to make an impact – so you compliment them. But are your compliments really making an impact?
Or could they be better? What if I told you some compliments are so impactful they will stay with a person for a lifetime… do you wonder what is different about those versus others?
Remember my post about what to do when a compliment feels like a lie? There are many reasons why we might feel like the compliments we receive are untrue. Thankfully there are certain things we can do about that.
In today’s post, I wanted to focus on the other side of compliments – the act of giving genuine compliments. It may not seem like a very difficult task on the surface, however it is often the case that those who have trouble receiving compliments also frequently have trouble giving genuine compliments as well.
The core idea behind this is what we are focusing on GENUINE compliments, not surface-deep compliments. Keep reading to find out what I mean…
What are ‘genuine’ compliments?
Before we begin the discussion I wanted to make one thing straight about what I mean when I talk about compliments and praise. In this conversation, I am referring to true and genuine compliments that come from the heart and are meant for the good, rather than random “compliments” that address objects that are materialistic in nature.
Many of us may think that we have no issues giving compliments to others but when you look deeper you may notice that most of the things that get complimented on are external rather than about the person. While those compliments may feel genuine, in terms of that you truly mean them, they refer to the object NOT the person.
I want to make sure we don’t get confused here about the wording. Yes, genuine does mean that you mean something truly – but we are talking about the target and focus of the compliment itself when determining whether the compliment is a genuine compliment or a surface compliment.
For example, these types of “compliments” are not something I refer to as genuine compliments:
“I love your shoes”
“That dress looks so good on you!”
“Wow! Your car is amazing! I wish I could have a car like that. I am so jealous”
The reason why I do not consider these compliments genuine is because they usually only run surface deep. We are not addressing the person in this compliment. I’m not saying it’s bad to give these types of compliments to people, surely people buy and wear certain things for a reason and they want to be acknowledged for it, however these things are not what describes a person.
I remember a few years ago in one of my college classes, we had a discussion about fashion, materialism, and compliments. I think it was philosophy of fashion (or was it something about feminism? I don’t remember exactly) or some class like that. Here’s some great reasoning I heard from a fellow student about this topic –
“I got a compliment on my outfit – I love your dress! But I am not the person who created this dress. They are really complimenting the maker of whoever made this item and it is not me. I mean, sure – they acknowledge that they like the things I like, but this still does not really address who I am as a person. I am not my dress. I am not my shoes. Nor am I my car. If these thing were taken away from me, what would you say then? That’s what a true compliment is. That’s a compliment that’s directed toward ME as a person.”
The idea is that objects do not make a person. (click to tweet)
A person’s traits, behaviors, and actions is what makes a person and those are the things that are truly worthy of praise. This is the praise we crave as human beings and this is what affects us and impacts us on a deeper level.
For example, this is what I refer to when I’m talking about compliments that are more genuine in nature because they address the person rather than the objects:
“You are so stylish.”
“You are such a kind person, you always make me feel good.”
“You are beautiful.”
“Wow, you are so smart. You can really figure out how to solve problems so easily.”
Do you see what I mean here? We address the traits, personality, or natural inherent look. These are the things that really matter because those things make the person who they truly are.
Why are genuine compliments less common?
Now that we’ve established what I mean when referring to genuine compliments, I wanted to go further. You might have noticed that, in reality – genuine compliments are not as easy to give as are surface compliments.
First thing that comes to mind is society (of course, society always seems to be the reason). Hear me out – in a society that has become increasingly more materialistic in nature, many of us have learned to associate with the objects we acquire. Many people have learned to hide behind the objects they buy and have those objects do the talking. We started to use products as means to define our identity. I mean, why else would you buy a fancy car? Why else buy expensive clothes? Many times it’s because these products are saying something about you – however they also end up distracting others from seeing into the real you.
It’s easy to compliment others on the objects they buy, use, and wear. But what if we were all stripped away and all that stuff was taken from us? There is nothing else you can compliment them on that would be of material nature. That’s when you start to get to work… you actually start to think. You begin to feel and dig deeper.
Stuff we own is like an armor. It prevents others from seeing into who we truly are. The stuff is a distraction. Many of us are self-conscious deep down and we hurt. We don’t want to show who we truly are to the world because what if we are perceived as “different”? What if we aren’t liked? What if our personality traits are unfavorable to the other person? Then we face rejection. And we will do anything to avoid that terrible feeling… Such as buying an armor full of stuff to distract others from seeing into who we truly are.
So why is it so difficult to look deeper?
- We are used to being distracted by stuff – we are used to complimenting others and defining others based on their armor rather than who they are at their core.
- Giving genuine compliments requires us to look deep within the person, past the armor, and notice the traits and quirks that truly make them who they are. It may feel like an invasion of privacy at times but this is the acknowledgment we truly desire to receive at our core.
- They are full of soul – if you struggle with self-esteem or body image issues, you may feel consumed by negative feelings and thoughts you feel about your own self. Being surrounded by this inward negativity might make it harder for you to notice the inner beauty in others.
Are you confused about the last point? Maybe you don’t think this really is true…
Is it possible that our own self-esteem and body image may be affecting how well we see into the soul of another person?
I had no idea this was true until I came with this face-to-face myself.
Edit: this post was originally longer but I decided to split it into two –
Questions for you so far:
What are your reactions to this so far?