I go to the local McDonald’s every morning to get caffeinated and start working. It gets me out of the house and helps me avoid urges to dust the overhead lights when I have a project due. I know everyone there and they know me as the “author” who sits by the window pounding away at the keyboard.
I walked in the other day and saw a woman behind the counter I’d never seen before. She was nervous and slow. It was obviously her first day — I know this because I’m there every damn day. Also, she was doing a hell of a lot better than I ever would behind the register at a fast food joint. My head is spinning just thinking about it.
As she handed me my cup, I noticed her nails. They were long and pink. She was killing that long, oval manicure that was adorned with gold gems; something I’d never be able to carry off, but wish I could.
“You are doing a great job,” I told her. I went on to tell her I liked her nails and then stopped myself, thinking I needed to tone down my extra-ness. But as soon as someone came up behind me and starting lighting into her that they had ordered a sausage, egg, and cheese instead of the bacon and egg sandwich they had received, in a tone so rude it made the manager stop and pause to gain composure before he handled it, I blurted out, “Your nails look amazing.”
She smiled at me, and I could see her start to breathe again. We then talked for a few minutes about our favorite places to get our nails done and how she was going to try leopard-painted nails next.
I try to do this as often as I can — compliment complete strangers when I see something I like. I need to do it more though. I know it can take my mood and lift it right up. I’ve seen it give people that extra pep they need to make it through the day.
We’ve all had second thoughts about doing our hair before we leave the house because it seems like no one notices anyway. Then, when someone does say they like our hair, it’s validating and puts a smile on our face at the very least.
It’s not about being vain or caring what others think, but it does us all good to hear about the positive things others see in us. We can often have a hard time seeing to our own good qualities, and compliments from others can radiate into our own minds.
In fact, it happened to me yesterday when I went to an appointment. I felt like I’d been looking so awful and tired lately. I gave myself a quick glance before I got out of the car and I felt self-conscious about the way I looked.
But, as soon as I walked to and saw the beautiful (much younger) blonde greet me, she told me how great my skin looked. “Your skin tone is so even and glow-y.”
I told her she looked young, healthy, and vibrant. We both felt better after I left; I could feel it in the energy we exchanged.
I’ve realized during my time on earth people are so quick to criticize others. They are so fast to point out our shortcomings–not just to strangers, but to those they know. It seems to be a knee-jerk reaction and it’s gotten to the point where people don’t think about their delivery or how it might affect someone else if they speak to them in a way that disregards their feelings. It seems like nothing to lay on your horn to the car in front of you or get pissed at the waitress for getting your order wrong.
But letting someone know you like their dress? That doesn’t come as easy, does it?
We may not understand someone else’s struggles or even know about them. We may not know a lot (or a single thing) about their life. We may not know why they are rude to us for simply being in a certain place at a certain time.
But we do know this: Compliments are for everyone. They take nothing from us but a few seconds. They have the power to transform someone’s day or week. They not only make the person receiving them feel good, they can make the person giving them feel good, too.
We are all constantly listening to the negative voice that lives within our heads because, as Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, “The bad stuff is easier to believe.”
That’s true for all of us. Remember that when you feel too busy to tell someone you like their earrings or how they are wearing their hair. Even during the moments you think your kind words won’t matter, they will.
You could be the reason their negative voice is calmed for a bit and make their entire day.