“I can live for two months on a good compliment.”-Mark Twain
Can our compliments have that kind of impact? Try these simple steps and see.
1.) Be Real…
Of course we would never want to wound someone’s feelings. However..that being said, it’s often wise to check our motives. Are your words a form of manipulation, designed to promote your own agenda? Is your compliment more about getting them to like you as opposed to honestly commending and validating them? Let me give you an example from my own life. For 20-25 years of my life. I looked like this:
and every 3-4 months, “Gertrude” would say to me “Shelly are you losing weight? You look great!” I’d smile and thank her for “noticing”, but since I was piling on the lbs at a pretty steady clip, what exactly was she noticing? Here’s the kicker: In the last 6 years I’ve lost over 230 lbs, I see “Gertie” twice a week and not once has she ever acknowledged my weight loss in any way. Did Gertie have an agenda? I can’t say, but it did teach me an important lesson about the difference between a sincere compliment and flattery.
2.) It’s All About The Details..
I hate the word “nice”. To me it’s the literary equivalent of the color “beige”- Inoffensive, unobtrusive, kinda just there. Saying “Jen, you’re such a nice person” tells her nothing useful. But what if someone said this instead: “Jen, when I started working here, you introduced me to everybody and included me in the conversations. You even invited me to lunch. Thank you.”
3.) Something In The Way They Make You Feel…
Many people have a really hard time accepting compliments. They feel the need to deflect the praise or minimize their accomplishment. What I’ve learned is that if I tell them how their actions make me feel, they can’t argue with that. So back to Jen, let’s now tell her how her actions affected us: “Jen, Your kindness eased my nervousness those first few days, I felt included right away, a part of the team”
Genuine, meaningful praise has the ability to heal and to energize. Let’s spread a little light!
What’s the most meaningful compliment that you’ve ever received and why?
John Kralik, the author of this book, had suffered through a self-described “Year From Hell”. In January 2008, in the midst of his misery, he began the project of sending a thank you note to someone in his life every day for the next 365 and by the end, found that this simple exercise had transformed his life. I bought this book while traveling in Colorado last year and twice attempted to begin my own thank you note project- but I never got beyond three days. Ever been there? Great intentions, not so great execution? It’s not surprising since Baby Steppers will often initially bite off way more than we can chew.
With that in mind, how about joining me in taking a smaller bite? A written thank you note to a different person each day for the next week. Still too much? How about a note a week to a different person for the next 7 weeks. No texts, emails or phone calls. Regular mail only. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time I got any kind of personal communication delivered by mail. A written note will have a far greater impact on the recipient than for example, a text- or so they tell me. Since I never got beyond three days, I’ll have to take their word for it.
Your personal challenge can begin at any time. Mine will be starting soon. I’d love to read about your results and I’ll be sharing mine!
A couple of years ago I was challenged by a mentor to write a three item Gratitude List every night. Three items, piece of cake, right? Not so much, I ended up listing the same five items over and over again- just in different configurations. Eventually my mentor decided, eyes glazing over, to suspend the challenge. I was clearly missing the point and was simply viewing it as an assignment to get through. Which brings me to the second way I revived my stale gratitude lists- by lengthening them.
“What if” I was asked by a friend “You listed 100 items instead of only 3?” Hmm..Interesting. Having to work with such a large number was overwhelming, but it had three surprising benefits. First-It allowed me to “see” things that I often took for granted. Second-I had to think out of the box and include things that before might have seemed too trivial. And finally, it generated a true feeling of gratitude. My vision had dulled, I had lost sight of my many gifts and a longer Grats List helped to sharpen my view.
I’ve gotten really creative, coming up with specialized 50-100 item Lists for different people, circumstances or institutions in my life. Some lists are easier to put together than others, but the end results are always the same: The process changes me, it redirects my focus and allows me to embrace every part of my life without reservation.
Have you ever been in a “Count Your Blessings/Grats List” rut? What did you do to pull yourself out?
As a fan of all things Oprah, I hopped on the bandwagon when she first began to praise the benefits of writing a daily Gratitude List. This was in the 90’s and back then it was a relatively novel idea. Cut to 2015 and a Google search will bring up hundreds, if not thousands of references. Gratitude lists have been endowed with almost magical qualities, believed to heal, among other things- the modern maladies of restlessness, irritability and discontent. I can personally vouch for it’s many benefits, but I can also speak to what happens when your list making feels forced and you are just going through the motions. The worst is the shame, because what kind of ingrate gets bored with writing gratitude lists? Well I felt this way a few months ago and made two easy changes to resurrect my Grats lists from the heaps of complacency. I realized that first, I needed to go broader and second to go longer. Today I’ll discuss how I broadened my list. Hopefully these two simple ideas might help you.
Looking at words associated with “gratitude”, I found “delight” “joy”, “value” and “appreciation”. So, in addition to asking myself who or what am I grateful for today, I often ask: Who or what brings me delight and joy? Who or what do I value and appreciate? Example: After subjecting my body to the strain of carrying over 230 extra lbs, I value and appreciate it’s resilience- this evening it supported me as I tackled a more strenuous exercise program. It also brought me joy and delight as I danced in my Girl Cave like no one was watching. Broadening my Grats Lists allows me to see beyond the surface, simply acknowledging my many blessings. By getting to the very clear “Why?” I can relish and savor them.
Next post?- I’ll talk about the second tweak: Lengthening my Grats List
I am a Baby Stepper and I’ve finally decided to own it
Years ago I was described as the newborn baby bird who slowly pecks her way out of the shell. That description came from my mother and I proceeded to file it away along with all of the other evidence proving that “You just don’t get me”. Turns out she did. The real problem was that I didn’t get me.
I spent the next few decades attempting to take giant leaps and massive action- each time falling flat on my face. That’s not quite right, my fall was always preceded by a two week goal attacking frenzy. Was I discouraged? Nooooo. Each fail made me even more determined to find the magic formula. It was revelatory to realize that I simply needed to work for what I wanted on my own terms..Baby Step style.
Sadly, not accepting who I was made it easy for me to ignore or minimize those things I actually did accomplish at that slow, measured pace. I should have respected my accomplishments, but I had been seduced by society’s message that Faster! More! is the goal and didn’t allow myself to appreciate them. No more. Is there a place for those of us who get where we want and need to be by riding the Baby Step Express? Oxymoron aside, I’m pretty sure there is…
So do you beat yourself up with thoughts that you “should” be doing life at a faster pace? Have you stopped working out because you felt that exercising 10-15 minutes a day is kinda lame? Are you trying to master a new language by learning one or two new words a day- but wonder what’s the point? Has it taken you twenty years to finally earn that degree? I could go on and on, but you get the idea and if that’s the case- we are kindred spirits. My goal is to provide other baby steppers with resources, information that motivates, inspiration, support and accountability- as well as chronicling my own journey as we each go about crushing obstacles, achieving goals and relishing the journey- one baby step at a time.