Complimentary Contradiction

I have accumulated a fair number of pet peeves over the years. A few include people disrespecting their parents, complaining and not doing anything to change it, telling me they are too busy and then tweeting about Netflix for the next three hours and using the word, “Africa” like it is a small city. It is THREE TIMES the size of The United States and there is not poverty everywhere so please don’t say “poverty in Africa”.

Today, the pet peeve that I am addressing is when people don’t use compliments in the right way. Maybe you have never thought about it but yes, a gesture that is meant to be nice can be abused.

I have noticed this is when people say things they don’t actually mean, throw phrases around out of habit and limit their compliments to things on the surface. I’m not judging their ways because I would assume that most don’t even step back and think about what is coming out of their mouth.

I talked about this with my friend a couple months ago. We spent pretty much every night together in the library during the week. The 2.a.m. departures ended in goodnight wishes.  Just like hello, good morning, please and thank you, “good night” is used A LOT in the human phraseulary. That would be vocabulary, minus the vocab, plus the phrase. 6cee4a9c033a50671faa5012addbac3e

One day as she was standing on her porch and I was heading back to my dorm, we were shouting to each other that we really hope each other has a spectacular night. The best night that could ever possibly be had on this day! Ever since that exchange, we don’t just say hasta la vista, baby (sorry, Arnold). We elaborate to express our truest intent.

What if everyone did this? The guy holding the door for you at the grocery store, the receptionist at your doctor’s office, the person you pass on the way to class at the same spot every day. THE WORLD WOULD BE SO COOL.

I can just picture people stopping to tell others what they really thought (positively is the goal) instead of cramming it into two words. I understand that people have places to go but if they did this even once a day, our lives would be so much happier!

Sometimes it is easiest for shallow words to escape. This is especially true when you don’t know someone too well so but you still want to point out something you enjoy about their presence. But when is the last time you preferred a mere word over a meaningful sentence? A compliment about your hair over a compliment about your heart?

Just a few days ago, I was at the bank and the teller read my name aloud. Her face lit up and she repeatedly said how beautiful it was. She proceeded to tell all of the other workers and her voice was a voice that carried. I am 297% positive that everyone standing behind me in line heard it too.

Every couple of days, people compliment my eyes which usually comes in the form of them staring into them and saying “Your eyes are so blue!!!”. Oh really? I had no idea. Excuse my sass because I really do appreciate these nice comments and I enjoy my name and eyes. However, I think it is important to go further than what meets the eye (no pun intended).

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The thing is, I don’t have control over my genetics or the words on my birth certificate. I think it is much more important to magnify people’s strengths, character and actions over what can be noticed in a single glance. In doing so, your identity is being revealed. What you choose to identify in others reflects who you are.

Need some help making notable remarks? So do I. Here are my three tips on how to be authentically expressive: stay curious, listen intently and remain honest.

Conversations get a transformation once the people engaged are curious. Once you genuinely care about what another has to say and give them your full attention, you will be amazed at how much you will take from their words. From this point, actual compliments with substance will fly out of your mouth without any effort.


Listening is the most important part of communication in my opinion. It is curiosity’s comrade because if you are only listening to yourself speak, you are not being curious enough to those around you. How can you compliment someone without knowing who they are and what they stand for?

I’m sure you already know that honesty is essential in relationships. This holds true for people you don’t even know. Nothing is worse than a compliment that is a lie.  If you don’t have anything to say, I’m begging you to keep quiet.  You don’t have to compliment everyone! Make it a point to never say anything that you do not stand behind.


I’m not telling you to stop saying “hello” or quit complimenting a stranger’s handbag but attempt to go deeper in addition to those statements. Be intentional, not superficial and don’t be afraid to mix up your lingo. Sorry to break it to you but it has gotten dusty. Live with the goal to spread kindness wherever you go and through it around like confetti! But remember if it’s not quality confetti, the color will quickly fade.


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