When I was a teenage girl, dressed up for some school event, my dad told me I looked pretty. I responded, disbelievingly, “You have to say that! You’re my dad”.
He stopped, looked at me and said “No, I wouldn’t have said anything if I didn’t think it was true.” That stuck with me throughout my life, and to this day I do not give a compliment I don’t mean. That would be extremely disingenuous and would serve no purpose.
Yet I believe many people have trouble receiving compliments, just as I did as a child. This is especially true for me in a professional companionship setting.
A man who is uncomfortable with his own looks may doubt my sincerity when I say something like, “You have a nice smile” or “Your eyes are a beautiful shade of blue.” I suppose given the nature of the interaction, it’s natural for some people to assume that I’m simply trying to make them feel good about themselves. I am, but that doesn’t mean the compliment isn’t true or that I made it up simply to ingratiate myself with them.
Indeed, the very nature of a professional relationship often involves role-playing and a degree of fantasy fulfillment. Consequently, there is a natural tendency to assume that compliments extended are simply part of the scheduled experience.
People I meet for the first time often are anxious and not used to being the center of attention. Others may be insecure or lack awareness of their true value. I often see people in relaxed settings that allow people the time and space to be more open, honest, and uninhibited. It’s that comfortable environment that offers me a unique perspective on personal qualities that may go unnoticed by others.
Quite simply, if I pay a man or woman a compliment, I mean it. It could be something innocuous — they have nice eyes — or more esoteric — I appreciate their work ethic or value system. If I didn’t actually believe it, I would simply stay silent.
But even the most disagreeable people have positive qualities. In my experience, when I spend quality time with someone, whether in casual conversation or more intimate encounters, I invariably find many things I admire and are worthy of a compliment.
So if we see each other, whether in a casual or professional setting, and I extend you a compliment, please rest assured that my sentiment is genuine. I really do mean it.
“Compliments are verbal sunshine” ~ Robert Orben