“You are not a brat.”
– My big brother, elementary school graduation, 1995
“When you start talking, everyone listens.”
– Thespian club member, unremarkable afternoon, 2002
“Damn girrrrrl. You smell good. Makes me wanna spend some money on you, or sumthin!”
– Enthusiastic fellow, cheese aisle, West Hollywood Trader Joe’s, 2005
“You look just like Elton John. Are you . . . a man?”
– Random frat boy, Halloween night, 2006
“You almost hotted me to death (wheeze).”
– My asthmatic beau, 2010
“I’m so proud of the life you’re designing.”
– My mom, en route to LAX, 2011
Potent, Provocative Compliments
I’ve received plenty of lofty praise over the course of my 26 years. But the compliments I remember vividly — the ones I filed away in my Permanent Compliment Repository — all had a few things in common.
:: They were unsolicited & delightfully unexpected.
:: They were short, sweet & to the point.
:: They highlighted an aspect of ME that I’d forgotten was . . . compliment-worthy.
So, what’s the secret formula for courageous compliments?
I’ve got a theory or two.
BE STARTLINGLY SPECIFIC
“You’re so pretty.” = meh.
“You’re so pretty, it’s almost offensive.” = YES.
“I liked your latest blog post.” = blah.
“Your latest blog post triggered an epic sobfest, followed by two hours of journaling & some serious realizations about my relationship with money.” = WORD.
“You look nice today.” = um, thanks?
“You are working that turtleneck sweater, Miss Thing! Clear the floor! Runway battle!” = TRUTH.
LOCK EYES & LURE ‘EM IN
I talk about eye contact all the flipping time. But really. Really. It’s a long-lost art. Direct, unwavering eye contact amplifies everything you say, ten-thousand-fold.
What a you waiting for? A wedding? A book launch? A presidential election? If you’ve got a compliment to bestow, don’t waste a moment. And don’t wait for The Moment. Just give it. Random, non sequitur praise is often the most memorable. And appreciated.
USE HUNDRED-DOLLAR WORDS
Brush up your Shakespeare. Dust off your thesaurus. Bust out some oft-overlooked adjectives. Get wordy with it. Take the time to craft the perfect phrase. And please, refrain from LOLs and SRLSYs.
The richest compliments reveal a glimmer of vulnerability, in the person giving ‘em. Think about the ultimate compliment: “I love you.” Now that’s some hot vulnerability. Courageous compliments come from that same heart-space.
Compliment Show & Tell!
What’s the most courageous compliment you’ve ever bestowed — or received? And, uh, keep it PG-13. For the children.