Praise 101

Young@Heart by Pam Young
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Praise 101

Do you like praise? When you get a compliment how do you react? Do you say something like, “Oh, this ol’ dress? I got it on sale ten years ago,” or do you accept the compliment gracefully? I think giving and receiving compliments is an art and it has to be practiced for us to become good at it.

I love to give honest compliments and I look for positive things to say that are true not only with my friends and family, but with strangers too.

I recently gave a compliment to a friend, no, I raved about something he was responsible for and I received no reaction; not a thank you, not a smile, nothing. (I’m glad I don’t give compliments to receive positive feedback.) I had to assume he was embarrassed and didn’t know what to say or perhaps he’s not comfortable with giving or receiving compliments. I guess I could ask his wife.

If you are like my friend and you want to improve on the art, I have a great idea for you; start complimenting yourself. Praise yourself when you do well, when you stick to your resolve and when you do the right thing especially when it’s a hard thing to do. (It’s interesting how often the right thing to do is hard. What a life lesson though. When I look back, those decisions to do the right thing when it was very difficult have always been filled with blessings. For instance, my decision to end a relationship that meant the world to me at the time has returned to me such power and joy that it tickles me to think the decision was so hard to make in the first place.)

Looking for Praise in all the Wrong Places

I remember when I was losing weight for the Mouth Trap book, I wanted praise from Terry. When I didn’t get it, I had to think about it and realize he’s not a complimentary person. He’s not critical either and I think the two must go hand-in-hand. The other thing I had to figure out was why do I need a compliment from him? I realized I really don’t. My opinion of myself is enough.

As I said, to be good at praising and receiving praise takes practice and starting with you is a beginning. The next step is to start being aware of people’s good qualities and then start expressing your feelings to them. Compliment mothers on their parenting, children on their good behavior, neighbors on their beautiful yards, clerks on their kindness. Just make sure your compliments are honest praise, not patronizing lines that just make you a phony.

My favorite kind of complement to give is what I call a second-had compliment. It’s really positive gossip. A mom tells her small child, “Grandma told me she was amazed when you shared your books with your brother and she’s so proud of you,” or “I overheard Marilyn say, she thinks your yard is the most beautiful one in the neighborhood.”

One of our neighbors has a home that looks like a villa in Tuscany. It even has a vineyard! I especially love to drive by it in the dark, because often they have every light in the home lit. It’s an amazing sight and I told her what a treat it is for me to drive by and enjoy the spectacle. She giggled and said, “Thank you!” And then she whispered as if telling a big secret, “At least once a week, I drive down the hill in the dark just to admire it too!”

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