Mae West was on to something when she first said Flattery will get you everywhere. Flattery. Compliments. Encouragement. Empowerment. These words are all on the same continuum with flattery (excessive and insincere praise) on one end and empowerment (to give power to) on the other. I don’t necessarily need to be flattered, but some honest praise, maybe a sincere acknowledgement, goes a long way.
I recently hired a closet organizer (really, I just needed someone, not emotionally attached to my stuff, who would help me purge). I’m a huge fan of paying someone for her expertise. Since I am a wellness expert, and people pay me, I like to complete the circle by being coached myself. I figured a fresh set of eyes would see all sorts of things that my all-too-familiar blindness has prevented me from seeing. My closets were beginning to bulge so it was time to ask for help.
Rachel, the organizer, was recommended by a friend of a friend. I was told that by the end of the week, my friend’s friend was so in awe of her closets that she would just sit inside them on the floor and look around. Calmly. Peacefully. And of course, organized. The purging part was handled firmly and effectively.
Let’s face it, getting rid of stuff is grueling. Hard. Frustrating. Throw in some sentimental memories and it’s no wonder that jacket that’s now too small or that shirt from the summer of 1996, is still hanging around. I knew before I even made that first phone call that I needed to mentally commit for it to make sense to hire her. I was a willing participant. I let her help me see reason. And my purge pile grew.
On the morning of the second day, I asked her to tell me how I was doing so far (call it encouragement). Her response was ‘I don’t know what you mean by encouragement, why don’t you just ask me questions and I can answer them.” And it was then that I realized she had yet to say anything positive. Not a single Good Job! Or I’m proud of you for letting that go. Or, I know you’re making difficult decisions, but hang in there, it will be so worth it.
By that afternoon, I told her the kind of encouragement I needed (I gave up counting on people to read my mind a long time ago) and again, her response let me know that was not part of her protocol.
I am dedicated. Disciplined. Motivated. I’ve learned to be nicer to me. So I didn’t think I needed her acknowledgment, but I do. We all do! It’s about being seen. It’s about being appreciated. And because she’s the expert – essentially my coach – it’s about being guided over and through the rough spots, effectively, yes, but also with some kind words.
Think of the last time you complimented someone – did you see her face light up? Did you see her stand a little taller? Breathe a little easier? Connections, even as fleeting as telling someone you like her shoes, are powerful. You are letting her know you see her.
Practice this yourself. Slow down. Be present. Say hi. Your awareness, your presence, will make it easy to find a compliment. Now, give it freely and feel it uplift both of you!
Start today – call someone right now and give him/her a compliment – and tell me what happens below!
P.S. If you need inspiration – take it from these two teen-age girls: Shea Glover started a beautiful social experiment that inspired many after her to create their own versions; and in less than five minutes, on the TEDx stage, Emily McIntyre shares the purpose and power of compliments.