A Voice and A Choice: Normalize Compliments

One of my favorite things to do when I’m out and about is to people watch. I’m not talking about the creepy “stare at someone like you know them and then look away once they notice” people watching. Just the observational, soak up the moment kind of people watching. If you haven’t tried it before, you should. To me, it’s a moment to just appreciate life. It doesn’t matter what is or isn’t going on around you, there is always something to see.

However, in doing this I’ve noticed something over the last few years that makes me sort of sad. No, not since the onset of COVID19, but rather a general degradation that I’ve watched unfold. People aren’t very friendly to anybody any more. For your reference, I did in fact grow up a little bit country. I spent several years in a few cities, and finally settled back in a smaller country town. But what I’ve noticed isn’t just in one place or the other, it’s a general, wide spread, lack of human decency.

That’s not to say there aren’t nice people around, nor am I saying “stranger danger” shouldn’t be taken seriously. But what happened to just being nice. Passing someone on the street while you’re store hopping and waving at them? Smiling and thanking a person when they hold the door for you? Smiling and holding the door for someone else (ok, COVID19. Your mask hides your beautiful smile and you don’t want anybody that close to you right now anyway, but before that? what’s your excuse?)?

You don’t need to make small talk. You don’t even have to know the person’s name. You just have to have at least one kind bone in you body. Unfortunately that seems to be drifting away in the “evolution and adaptation of man through the ages”. Please don’t get started on Karens or Brads, millenials or boomers, disrespectful youngins, none of that. Because the shift that I see has no regard for generation, economical status, race, religion, sex, or what not. It’s just plain general unfriendliness.

And what happened to compliments? Everyone seems to have their nose so far into the air that they couldn’t care less. Whatever you have going on or think is below them, and nothing you say can better them or their attitude. Don’t take that as saying you should care about other peoples opinions of you or that you have to take their advice. You should take constructive criticism yes, but nobody has time for unfounded negativity. BUT MY GOSH, is a little compliment going to harm people?

I think if someone has something positive to say to or about me, they are welcome to do so at any time. I personally get a feeling of contentment and a little tingle of joy when I receive a compliment, especially if it’s about something I’m truly not feeling good about. It gives me a little validation that I’m not a lost cause to life and that my anxiety can go hang itself because it’s just that…anxiety, not REALITY.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Leo Buscaglia

So, I have this (probably annoying) tendency to dole out compliments any time they pop into my head. Standing in line at the grocery store, the lady in front of me has the cutest jacket or boots, I’m going to SAY SOMETHING! At school pick-up, one of the mom’s I don’t usually talk to, but we smile in passing every day, has a new haircut, of course I’m going to tell her how bomb she looks! The next door neighbor is wearing the most awesome pair of new leggings? I’m going to ask her where she got those, even if I’m 95% sure they won’t come in plus sizes (but hey, there is still a 5% chance they do, right?). It’s about making the other person feel good, even for just a second.

It’s not just woman to woman either. Did you know…you can compliment a guy without it being sexual, in a way HE won’t think is flirting? It’s so true! If a guy is wearing a novelty T-shirt, chances are, he’s pretty freakin’ proud of that dad joke. Say something about. Even if it’s just to spout off in passing, “You’re shirt’s great!” Ok, so let’s say he isn’t wearing a funny shirt. Try saying something nice about his car/truck/bike. Or…here’s a good one…just tell him you hope he has a great day.

And I can’t stress this enough, if you see someone that doesn’t conform to how you think they should look, either choose to say nothing, or force something genuinely positive (no matter how small) out of your mouth. You would be surprised how far giving a compliment will take you in understanding the other person. When you see them light up for even a split second because they were SUPER self conscious a minute ago, but you gave them something to hold onto, you will understand. Compliments aren’t about you, they are about giving a little happiness in a way that costs nothing more than MAYBE your pride.

My point is, you don’t have to be engaging someone you know in a deep conversation to offer a compliment. I believe that compliments from strangers go so much further on the path to happiness. Compliments from friends and family are great, but I have never felt that they carry as much weight as a compliment from a stranger. A stranger has nothing to gain, is not trying to hold your failing optimism together like a friend does, and has no other motive other than being friendly.

Sometimes, popping off at the mouth with something kind in the direction of stranger is all that person needs to come up 3 or 4 levels on the happiness scale that day. A compliment should be a passing truth that you throw at someone and move about your day. The impact to you is low, the impact to them could be huge. The overall impact it will make towards making society a little more friendly will also be worth it.

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1800: Samuel Langhorne Clemens 1835 to 1910 known by pen name Mark Twain American humorist, satirist, writer, and lecturer From photograph taken in his old age (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

“I can last two months on a good compliment.”

Mark Twain

Don’t be selfish, you have a voice for reason. Heck, you have one for MANY reasons. Don’t be afraid to use it to uplift the people around you. Society needs a little more good in it. Please, be that good.

Categories: 2021Tags: , , ,


  1. Exactly. Kindness is what makes difference in our days.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I spent several years in retail too! And it was definitely a trend then. I wouldn’t want to imagine it these days. Customer service and sales is bad enough…retail? I don’t know if I could do it anymore!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for putting this out there, I definitely feel the same. I work in retail and though a small percent of people are nice, it’s common to see some cold behaviour. And you’re right, it’s the wider society too, but it’s just a case of being nice for the sake of it regardless of whether people will like it or not, but chances are they will. These are good thoughts!

    Liked by 2 people

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