The Best and the Not-So-Great Compliments

Recently, a friend (two friends, really) paid me a compliment. She mentioned that, mid-conversation with a mutual acquaintance of ours, my name came up, and her companion offered some kind words.

Can you guess this type of compliment?

Which reminded me – one of my favorite types of compliments, hands-down, is the secondhand compliment.

I use these with my kids all of the time!

When our little ones overhear me speaking words of praise about them to their dad, they literally glow. Or, when I share about our day to Joe, and he tells Rosie, “I heard you were a big help with your brother today!”, our daughter grows in both confidence and kindness.

It’s so powerful!

Secondhand compliments send the message that someone is thinking of me, someone believes in me, and they don’t result in the same amount of skepticism as your traditional compliment.

(You see, sometimes, we have a hard time accepting compliments – which is a topic all on its own – but, when it comes from a third party, we don’t question it!)

Challenge Extended!

So, I’m issuing a challenge to this amazing community: give a secondhand compliment this week.

How?, you ask. For, really, there are two givers involved.

#1: Look for sincere ways that people touch your life. Another type of compliment that is the best kind of compliment? A sincere compliment. So spend a few minutes observing your surroundings and interactions. You don’t have to search for something kind to say if you already have a bank of sincere compliments waiting.

#2: When you see those moments or qualities in someone else that make life better, share them! Talk to your kids about their teachers or babysitters. Talk to your in-laws about your spouse! Share something you’ve noticed with a mutual friend. Talk to a supervisor about an employee that provided a quality experience! Talk to your siblings about your parents, and your parents about your siblings.

#3: Frequency. Here’s the secret sauce for you… No, you can’t guarantee that your words will be passed on, but the more you spread that love, the higher your chances!

How about the Not-So-Great kind?

Speaking of compliments, one of my pet peeves, however well-intentioned, is the comparison compliment.

If you guessed a back-handed compliment, you aren’t far off, but, while a back-handed compliment slights the receiver, the comparison compliment slights someone else – a mutual third party, a group, or even a belief.

My whole life, I’ve been labeled as the “nice girl”. It’s not so bad, as labels go, but it often comes with a plethora of comparison compliments attached.

I’ve heard, “What did your mom do differently with you than with your brothers?”, “Your kids are so well-behaved! You should really share your secrets with ‘so-and-so’. I don’t know how she does it“, and “I’m so glad to finally meet somebody with some sense.”

Can you spot what might not feel right about these compliments?

I bring this up, because, most of the time, people sincerely want to express gratitude or offer affirmation – they aren’t trying to be hurtful.

But, *TRUTH BOMB*: we shouldn’t have to put some people down in order to praise others.

A Call for Encouragers

Today, more than ever, we need people willing to build each other up. One of my favorite quotes reads:

Be one who nurtures and builds. Be one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.”

Marvin J. Ashton

Can you imagine what would happen if we all committed to that? How much good we could do?

Here’s to seeing it through.

❤ Jenny

26 thoughts on “The Best and the Not-So-Great Compliments

  1. Very encouraging post. You opened my eyes to some things that we take for granted especially when you said that we do not have to put someone down to praise someone else. Thsnk you and blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been keeping too many compliments to myself. I should let them out and let people know how appreciative I am of the big and small life changing things they’ve done for.
    I’m not like this consciously but I’ll try and do better.
    Thanks for sharing this 💚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this!! I had the “nice girl” label, too so I always had to be on my best behavior when I was little even if I was having a bad day. It made me feel like I had to just be quiet and keep smiling.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was such an thought provoking post. While having known both kinds of compliments, I never paid attention much to the difference. truly their impacts can be really far reaching and everlasting in some cases. Thanks for sharing.


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