This morning I was subbing a boot camp class for another instructor. She is very energetic, fun, and has a loud commanding voice. She was a school teacher so she’s used to giving orders and wrangling unruly people in to action. I’ve taken her class before and I was impressed. For me, it’s always a bit intimidating walking into a situation like this as a sub. I know her students love her and the control she has over the class. I’m not loud. Every personality test I’ve taken points more to introvert while still ranking high in the leadership category as well. So I guess that makes me a quiet leader? I like to crack jokes. I don’t take things too seriously, and I like to make people laugh when they are working hard as a distraction. My style is definitely different from hers.
One of the gals in the class afterwards thanked me said “You have a really soothing voice. It’s just so nice and calming – I really enjoyed it!” Another woman chimed in and said “I really appreciated your humor today!” I was so surprised to hear both of those compliments. One – I was thinking I should have been louder and more serious. Two – I often think my voice sounds scratchy and pitchy and my humor is goofy at best! Getting those compliments really made me feel good. It was confirmation that I should stick with my style instead of trying to emulate someone else. While these were little things for the women to say – they had a profound effect on me.
A couple of months ago, I was at Starbucks. I was in a hurry and rushing from teaching a class. I was in my work uniform of yoga pants and tank top with my hair in a pony tail and minimal makeup. I can’t remember specifically why – but I do remember I was not feeling as confident or good about myself that day as I should. I was exiting with my drink when an older gentleman a few steps ahead of me turned around and said “You look terrific – have a nice day”. He then proceeded to get in his car and drive off. I was shocked and couldn’t help but smile! In fact, I smiled for quite a while after that. My confidence skyrocketed! What a nice gesture with no hope or expectation of anything in return! I just love compliments like that.
It occurred to me, I often notice someone and think – cute boots or great haircut or excellent form, awesome balance, impressive flexibility, great instruction, beautiful penmanship or any number of other good qualities. It’s so easy to find things I like or admire in others. In the past I’ve kept those thoughts to myself. I’ve realized compliments are free and yet so powerful. The person in line in front of me with the great outfit may be having a rough day. My quick – “Wow – I love that outfit!” may be just what she needs to brighten her day and lift her spirits. Acknowledging someone’s skill that I find impressive may be the confirmation they need to keep doing what they are doing. My compliment may even spur the receiver to compliment someone else. If I’m thinking it and I know how powerful compliments are – why am I keeping them to myself??
I believe the key to giving compliments is to be sincere and to give them freely. Don’t expect or hope for one in return. It should feel good enough making someone smile even for a quick moment. And everyone knows that person that lavishes compliments every direction without really meaning them. Those don’t count!
So I say to you – Give Compliments – They are Free – but also Very Powerful!
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