My first example is from when a swing dancer I respect a TON went out of his way to tell me how much he enjoys watching my facials when I perform. I don't recall his exact words, but it was something along the lines of, "Whenever I see you guys perform, I always watch your facials because you nail them every time." This was really special to me because (1) I realize I'm not the best dancer on the floor, not nearly, so I felt like I was contributing to the performance, (2) I work hard at performing with my face and not just moving through the steps, so it was validation and encouragement to keep it up, and (3) he sought me out and pointed out something specific that he liked, which meant he put thought into it and made it that much more meaningful to me. So often after I perform, people say, "Great job," and I am grateful for general compliments like that, but I think specific compliments show genuine appreciation and are more constructive for the future.
We're working on a version of "Thriller" right now (performing at Hepkats on the 31st, I would love for all of you to come watch it), and as we work on it, I can't help but feel a deep need to perfect the facials (scary, spooky zombie faces instead of my normal cheery, smiley, sometimes sassy faces), primarily because this one well-respected dancer told me that he loves watching my facials. He likely will not even be at the Thriller performance, but I feel obligated to nail them anyways, to not let myself down, which drives me to work harder at them (I've been watching the video and studying the facials and practicing them no matter how silly I feel). All because of one compliment. I don't want to call him out, but if he's reading this (and I hope he is, so he knows how grateful I am), he knows who he is.
My second example is from just last week. As many of you know, I had gone shopping and found a great green dress (green - when have I ever looked good in green?) and posted a picture of it. I spent the rest of my evening reading and disconnected from facebook, until suddenly I checked it and saw that I had a bajillion compliments! Guys, THANK YOU SO MUCH! It was an amazing response and really boosted my confidence. I assure you, it really was the dress! I wore that dress to work on Thursday, and virtually every conversation started with, "Hold on, let me see this dress." It was really amazing for my confidence, especially because I've only recently started wearing dresses (and the occasional jumpsuit - another highly complimented piece) to work, and I hate my legs and I am self-conscious about my weight and all that other stuff. So the compliments from that dress alone made me want to wear more dresses and focus on my appearance more than I have in the past (previously, it was: throw a shirt on with a pair of pants and find a decent necklace and get out the door). Guess what? I got four new dresses! My closet is becoming packed with dresses for work, despite not wearing dresses to work for the previous 10 years of my career!
I will be the first to admit that I have to work at this complimenting thing; it is not easy for me (I think I'm probably pretty selfish naturally), so I have to remind myself to look for things I like about people. "That shirt is really flattering on you," or "That necklace goes perfect with that outfit," or "That color looks great on you," are easy enough. I also try to let people know when I think they're doing or have done a good job handling a difficult situation. I don't force myself to compliment all the time, because I don't want it to seem forced or contrived, but I do try to verbalize it when someone makes an impression on me. I think all too often we keep these things bottled up or we forget to say them, and all those people are missing out on hearing from us and the amazing feedback that can lift someone's spirits or improve their attitude towards something. The best thing about compliments is that they are free to give, take very little time or effort, and can have such a big payout.
So for tomorrow, my challenge for everyone, including myself, is to give someone a sincere and specific compliment, preferably in person, but online if circumstances are prohibitive to in-person chatting.