Compliments – Why You Should Give Them and Take Them


Following on my from my blog post the other day about how I like to find the positive in the negative   I wanted to discuss the topic of compliments.

I used to think I was a realist, but then I realised that I’m always hoping for the best, so really I’m a natural optimist).  I know I’m a glass half full with a jug on the side ready to top up my glass at any time kind of woman.  But not everyone is the same and sometimes life and people can get us all down.

Research on Ratio of Compliments to Criticism We Need

I was reminded in the comments from that blog post about how we need to hear 5 compliments to offset 1 piece of criticism (research on that here) and that made me think about how it’s important for all of us to both:

  1. Hand out genuine compliments to those around us daily
  2. Take compliments with grace and with love, remembering that they are gifts

Now constructive criticism is important as the research (mentioned earlier) says that it does help us improve.  We’d never learn to do anything really well if we didn’t get some constructive feedback.  But too often it’s much easier to point out what’s wrong, without also pointing out what is right.

Compliments - Why You Should Give Them and Take Them

I’m not the best at handing out compliments.  I have to think about doing this in a proactive way.  Part of this is because of the way my brain works (I’m an INTJ so spend more time in my head than thinking about possibility and new ideas than about other’s feelings), and also because I don’t need a lot of positive reinforcing feedback, (also because of my psychological type) as I kind of give it to myself, though of course I do always love receiving positive feedback!

I have been reminded by the lovely Jill Chivers that there are other types (like hers and my lovely assistant Kate’s) who do need regular positive detailed feedback to perform at their best and so I try (though sometimes still fail) to give regular positive feedback to those around me.

One of the things I think is really important with my clients is to tell them what they are doing right (as often they assume all I’ll do is tell them what they are doing wrong), plus then, explain how they can do some other things even better, which helps them learn and grow.

Many of us find it hard to take compliments, because we just don’t get enough of them and so they can make us feel uncomfortable.

Why do we need compliments?  Well they fulfill our human need to feel loved and accepted, part of a community and important.

Along with giving others more positive feedback, I’d also love you to think about taking compliments better (not in a narcissistic way), and accepting that they may be true!

Giving Compliments Improves Your Self Esteem

Plus did you know that giving genuine compliments to others actually improves your own self-esteem, as you see yourself as a more generous and kind person (what a win-win that is).

Learning to find the positive in anything is an important skill.  In a situation you don’t love?  A boring meeting? A poorly put together presentation?  A dull commute?  Then why not spend some time finding the positive of that experience.  Maybe it’s a list of “how to run a meeting well” so that when you have to do the same, you have more skills on hand.  Maybe it’s not “death by powerpoint”, instead a dynamic, colourful presentation.  Maybe it’s some time to meditate or reflect, listen to a fascinating podcast and appreciate that commuting down time.

Remember if you’re planning on leaving a comment that you don’t have to love everything about anyone else’s style.  You don’t have to want to wear or agree with a point of view, but you can try and understand where someone is coming from.  See their point of view.  Look for what you love, not what you hate.  You will start then to see more and more of the good, the inner beauty, the uniqueness of us all.

It doesn’t matter where you are, if you find the good things in any situation you will be happier and more contented.  And to be truly stylish, being happy, confident, kind and generous go a long way to creating that.

By the way, did I tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to read this?  You make my world a better place, I honestly mean that!

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