What's one simple, powerful act that is radical, affectionate, feels good and can change someone's outlook on life?
"What a great idea! You often come up with such creative and helpful solutions to problems."
"I know you don't always think so, but you are really creative. That drawing makes me feel so peaceful."
Simple words; sizeable effect.
So, over the years I've realized complimenting is a kind of an art.
I've got a great teacher though. He's a Zen Buddhist monk. He sure knows a lot about happy, healthy relationships. I want to share his secret to great complimenting here.
My teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, calls this "flower watering" because as we compliment and water the flower of our friend or loved one, we see them bloom like a flower.
Makes sense, right?
Just like the famous experiments of Masaru Emoto on water, we humans respond to positive words. We often show our blooming joy by smiling, glowing, standing up straighter when we receive sincere compliments.
This is a great reason to gracefully receive a compliment with a smile and a sweet "thank you." We allow all that great energy to permeate us when we do! If we deny or cringe, we lose a powerful opportunity.
Two notes of caution when giving compliments:
- Since some people brush compliments off just keep trying! Eventually the caring will land.
- Also, in our society women are complimented primarily for our looks. Don't make this compliment faux pas. Try to look past the surface for compliments on things women do, qualities they embody or growth they are achieving.
Want to try it? Why not! Here's how to compliment liberally and radically.
1. First, choose a person. It is great to choose a friend or family member. Or stranger!
2. Next, without being nosy, simply observe them with a kind eye. Look for things they are working hard at or that they care about. You can compliment them on their actions and efforts.
You can also think about past things that you appreciate about the person and compliment on that.
3. Third, choose your timing well. Right when they are in the middle of finishing a chapter in a novel may not be the best time.
4. Fourth, make eye contact, tap into the sincerity in your heart. Really feel your wish for their happiness. And then compliment them!
5. Fifth, repeat! You will perhaps notice the person blooming like a spring flower.
6. Finally, don't expect anything in return. The good we do by complimenting uplifts and empowers. That's about all the thanks we need.
We often think that people know the wonderful qualities about them. They rarely do. And it makes such a difference to tell them. It deepens relationships to appreciate their qualities.
Have fun with your experiments in radical complimenting. (gleefully twinkles fingers)
Try it with different people. Or get creative with the same person, over and over again, always new praise.
Complimenting is one of those things you simply can't do enough.
I'd love to know how it goes!
Susanna Barkataki loves to get to know her readers. Write her at email@example.com
See more at