Compliments can mean the world…


As I stumbled into the fact that March 1 was the World Compliment Day, I was reminded of childhood learning. We were all taught to greet others, it was meant to be offered with a smile, express gratitude when someone does good to you, say thank you and don’t shy away from saying sorry if you need to. We would typically do that by offering “Salaam,” it is a profound act of wishing the other person “may the peace be upon you” just as the act of obeisance through “Namaste”, both are such acts of kindness and humility. Children are mischievous and I was no exception, there were times when I’d ridicule or make fun of greetings; saying it loudly or without sincerity, I remember my late mother tutoring me through a quote of the Prophet; “be sincere and generous in your compliments but avoid exaggerations”. A teaching that has served me well.

I realized, how important it is to compliment people in our lives. There are several occasions when we take things for granted and do not feel the need for a compliment. We come across friends, colleagues and at time strangers who often leave positive vibes in us just by the way they conduct themselves before us. Maya Angelou so articulately described this “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.” I noticed, complimenting comes naturally to a few people but it can also be built overtime. While a good and authentic compliment can do wonders to the recipient, it also brings alacrity to the offeror too. A smile begets smile and a frown begets grimace.

Compliments are contagious, it creates an atmosphere of gratitude and fun. There can be numerous ways of complimenting but what matters the most is the authenticity of a compliment. A simple greeting or an act of gratitude (a simple thank you) is a powerful compliment. It’s our own inertia that often hold us back from complimenting, it is a good idea to let go our inertia.

The new digital world has made it easier to compliment, a simple birthday wish on social media to a re-tweet can be a good compliment. Digital compliments also have their limitations, it can be generated through algorithm without any personal touch, it is far more effective to have a personalized and creative digital compliment rather than resorting to a robotic algorithm based compliments. Being specific in compliments or recognition encourages the repeat of a good behavior, anything that gets rewarded gets repeated. A very simple act of reading the name plate of a waiter at the restaurant and calling him/her by her name can be an effective compliment. An honest criticism in private and with dignity can be a valuable compliment.

Since I spent my formative years in the Armed Forces, I noticed camaraderie between a young officer and his men was a great display of compliments. Compliments should be an extension of one’s own personality. If one has a good sense of humor, it is worth using it, it plays an important role in compliments and recognition. One of best days at work is when we laugh out loud as a team and pull each other’s leg. It creates an environment of congeniality and makes recognition and compliments informal and joyful.

I personally find exchange of compliments both therapeutic as well as stress buster. An honest and fierce conversation can serve as a compliment. We often mistake of perceiving a difference of opinion to be disrespect. A respectful interjection executed with dignity can serve as an effective compliment. It is incumbent upon us as leaders to express our views and do that sincerely. A patient hearing is a compliment too. It is a compliment that’s getting scarce by the day, we are all becoming impatient and wish to put across our point of views faster and louder. Compliment is a display of compassion, graciousness and is an act act of charity and altruism.

A recent study published by Forbes quotes Social Rewards Enhance Offline Improvements in Motor Skill, According to Professor Norihiro Sadato, the study lead and professor at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan, “To the brain, receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as being rewarded money. We’ve been able to find scientific proof that a person performs better when they receive a social reward after completing an exercise.”

While a compliment may not run your kitchen, it will certainly help you manage your hypertension better. There must be some reasons why Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”