Thanks for the Compliment

​So a couple of days ago I was welcoming the kids off of the school buses, like I always do to start the day, when a little girl walked up to me and gave me a beautiful and heartfelt compliment. She wasn’t fishing for one herself, and she wanted absolutely nothing in return, it was just an authentic gesture that was inspired by an experience that we had both shared together just a few days earlier…and you know what, it absolutely made my day! It made me instantly think of that great Mark Twain quote, “I can live for two months on a good compliment”, and to be honest, I haven’t stopped smiling since. It got me thinking about the power of compliments, and how if given with true sincerity and at the right moment in time, they can totally be day changing…maybe even life changing. 

I came across some interesting research out there which suggests that to our brain, receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as being given money. This journal article also suggests that using compliments is an easy and effective strategy to use in the classroom and during any form of rehabilitation, and finally how compliments can actually be an integral component of cementing a person’s skill development. This is not surprising to me at all, as I’ve seen it first hand with my students and with my own two children. I also know the positive and immediate boost that I receive when someone compliments me on something.The thing is, it’s easy to go days or even weeks without either giving or receiving one, so I think it’s time that we all start making compliment giving a priority throughout our daily routines.

We can all do a better job at not only finding opportunities to sincerely compliment the people that we come across each and every day, but also at how we receive a compliment when it’s given. It’s hard for some of us to take a compliment without becoming uncomfortable, uneasy, or even cynical about someone’s intent…it’s hard to just stand there and smile, accept it, and say a simple thank you, even if it is the best and most appropriate response.

I found another interesting article by Eric M. Roberts, which lays out six important reasons why we should all begin to compliment more. Here they are…

  • Compliments encourage others who are struggling
  • A compliments can truly be all that stands between someone being successful or giving up
  • Compliments help people learn new tasks
  • Compliments strengthen and soften relationships
  • Compliments increase our circle of influence
  • Compliments help you become less cynical

Like me, Roberts recognizes that most people are pretty stingy with the giving of unsolicited compliments, even when we know that they are a powerful and positive experience for both parties. Anyway, I’m not sure that the compliment that I received from that little girl will last me for two months, but it’s going on four days now and I’m still thinking about it…that’s pretty darn powerful. I want to challenge us all over the next few weeks, as we speed toward the end of the year, to purposely look for opportunities to make someone’s day with a compliment. Be sincere, genuine, and authentic in your delivery, and be gracious and thankful if you happen to receive one for yourself, which I know you all deserve. I’ll be spreading them around as well, and I’m excited to see the smiles. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.


Quote of the Week…

If you see something beautiful in someone, speak it! – Ruthie Lindsey


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3 thoughts on “Thanks for the Compliment”

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more on this issue! I do think a sincere comment is so valuable. Most people are quick to voice gripes and complain and often do not take a minute or two to give someone a little dose of praise. Compliments are like sparklers– they are sparkly and shiny and once they’ve burned out, we still have the sensation of having had a little treat!

  2. Daniel, we should all be doing this. I’m proud of you! Be genuine and real. As a middle school teacher I would stand at my door greeting each student with a handshake, high five, fist bump, whatever, along with a smile, thank you for being here today, and we are going to have a good day. One day I was busy prepping for class and was remiss in greeting the kids. The bell rang, and I told them to come in. They just stood there. I realized my error, got up and walked to the door. They greeted me with a smile and we are glad you are here today. Ah, these are the moments to remember. My wife and I worked international education for 2 years and had a fantastic experience. Returning to California I became a School Counselor, Dean of Students, Assistant Principal and Principal at the high school level in the California public school system in various districts. I have always made a point to stand at the entry gates as time permitted, walked around during lunch time to say hello, pay a compliment and chat with our students. Compliments and smiles were plentiful. Kids are fantastic and they respond to people who truly care for them in different settings. You have to be on your ‘A’ game every day. Now retired I still volunteer where possible at the high school level.

  3. Dear Mr. Kerr,

    I would like to sincerely compliment you on this article. Not only is it an excellent reminder of the power of words and the affect they have on others, but it was very informative to learn that it’s also a great learning tool, because as you state, it’s an integral component of cementing a person’s skill development.

    Such a simple, yet overlooked tool, that also has the power to boost a student’s self esteem should certainly be used frequently and generously by teachers.

    The research that receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as being given money is one that I have heard before because it has been widely reported that a person’s need to feel appreciated is as important as their desire to be well-compensated.

    Thanks for the reminder, and let’s be sure to invest generously in compliments, it costs nothing, but pays great dividends!

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