I’m a chronic over-thinker, held back since schooldays by my own reserve.
That’s meant a lifetime of rarely complimenting girls, in case they figure I’m a creep on the prowl. Come to think of it, it's meant seldom saying nice things to anyone, for fear of sounding insincere, obsequious or weird.
Well, enough already.
My goal for a week is to break the chains of reticence and feel closer to others. “Giving compliments is a way of showing you’ve noticed and appreciated something about another person,” says Perth-based clinical psychologist Dr Fiona Michel. “Plus, people like being around someone who’s friendly and open.”
Michel gives me some guidelines to use on this festival of flattery.
Mean What You Say
This is about releasing feel-good energy you would normally bottle up, not blowing smoke.
“Consider the setting and your relationship with the person,” advises Michel. Translation: compliments directed at female associates should be focused above the neck.
Don’t Run Off At The Mouth
“A sentence or two will do it,” says Michel.
A week later, here’s what I can report.
My commitment to praising proves you can splash colour over a dreary day just by articulating thoughts that would normally die inside you.
My son’s chuffed when I tell him I admire his approach to a new job.
My wife leaves for work beaming after I remark how great she looks in that blue dress.
The receptionist lights up when I say she has the perfect face for greeting visitors.
And a colleague is shaky with gratitude when I look her in the eye after a meeting she’s led and purr, “We are so lucky to have you”.
Sure, there’s the odd miss, like on the train one morning when I comment on a woman’s necklace and, palpably uncomfortable, she promptly changes carriages. But, overall, this is an easy way to spread a little joy and to feel better about yourself and the world.