The 1st of March is World Compliment Day, which was founded in the Netherlands in 2005 as a non-commercial initiative (in contrast to Valentine’s, Mother’s and Father’s Day) to create more positivity in the world. The PG team could not be more in favour of such a noble initiative!
All people have an emotional need for recognition and appreciation. The founders of the day encourage people to give this appreciation through words rather than gifts, not only because words can have more power and meaning, but also because there is no cost attached to giving them.
The most important thing about a compliment is how it makes the recipient feel. It is amazing what a confidence boost a person can gain from hearing or reading a few positive words put together specifically for them. And it has a knock on effect, making the receiver feel so uplifted that they are much more likely to compliment someone else. The power of words is a marvellous thing!
I have had my own battle with giving compliments over the years. As a young man, the majority of my compliments were taken as sarcastic comments, even though they were heartfelt. It must have been a mixture of my teenage tone of voice and the fact that the compliment was so unexpected the receiver did not believe it was sincere. Over time, I have learned to give well-received compliments, often by writing rather than speaking the words, but also by improving my tone of voice and my timing. I even learned to deliver a compliment to a stranger, and on that note, I hope you don’t mind me retelling a brief personal anecdote…
On an evening out, when I was in my late teens (oh, to be young again!), I spied an incredibly attractive lady in the large busy pub in which my friends and I were drinking. Towards the end of the evening I saw the lady have an argument with her friends and storm off. As she left the pub, I caught her attention. She had a look of concern on her face, partly because she was annoyed with her friends and partly because a random stranger (me) had just stopped her unexpectedly. I told her that I wanted her to know that she was the most beautiful girl in the pub. She was utterly taken aback, thanked me and went bright red, instantly forgetting her argument with her friends. Before she had the opportunity to think that I was just delivering a corny chat-up line and was about to ask for her telephone number, I wished her a good evening and walked away. Even to this day, I remember the sparkle in her eye when she realised that I meant every word I said and wanted nothing in return. It was risky, but I was young and fearless, not to mention lucky that it paid off.
In 2011, I drew some portraits of British comedians to raise money for Comic Relief. When David Walliams received his portrait (see photo), he sent me a hand-written letter to compliment my work and to say how much he liked the portrait. It was incredibly uplifting for me.
Imagine turning to one of your colleagues today and telling them that they are doing a great job and that makes your job easier. This can have a dramatic effect, not just on their mood for the day, but on their approach to their job and even their whole work ethic. Or how about leaving a handwritten note for your partner to say how beautiful they are and how much they mean to you? The unexpected compliment can have the greatest effect.
If you are lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a compliment, show your appreciation with a smile and few words of thanks. There is no need to waffle on, which some people do when the compliment has caught them off guard and made them nervous. It is also better not to fire a compliment straight back as this can undermine the original compliment. It is often best to offer your thanks and tell them that it was a kind of them to say such a nice thing.
I urge you all to embrace World Compliment Day and would like to let you know that you are a better person than you think you are. Just show it to those around you by telling them how great they are.