I don’t get too charged up about compliments. It is a nice practice to speak words of encouragement and a simple remark like “You look great today!” can really lift someone’s spirits. But too often, compliments can be like “the handshake that hides the snake.” *
“Wow, that’s some shirt!” says nothing and everything. The other day as I crossed paths with a guy on the sidewalk, he said, “Hey pretty lady. You look good for over 40.” I laughed; it was funny. But it was certainly a bass-ackward compliment.
Not long ago, I received what I consider a very real compliment. I don’t believe my co-worker was aware she was giving a compliment, but I heard it and was deeply touched by it. We were talking about pet names for loved ones, her great grandchildren in particular. As she began to share something with me, she started by saying, “I can say this to you.” She then finished her comments.
She and I are probably pretty close in age, but our ethnic backgrounds and our lives are very different. “I can…” means she trusts me with her thoughts. “…say this…” means she trusts me enough to say the words aloud without fearing the possible reaction to those words. “…to you.” means that we really have a relationship. That six word sentence made my day. I have safely tucked it away in my heart with other treasures.
Look for an opportunity to give such a gift. And pay attention – someone may be trying to do the same for you. You don’t want to miss it!
*(Smiling Faces Sometimes, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, my favorite version recorded by Undisputed Truth in 1971.)