The Art of Complimenting

By: Channing Smith

In Today’s world, we live in a society that’s so focused on individualism and constant comparison, so it’s an amazing feeling when someone notices something positive about us and lets us know. This act is known as complimenting.

To most of us, receiving compliments is always welcomed and can instantly put a smiles on our faces, and can even turn a bad day into a great one. Although compliments are nice to receive, giving them out can be just as satisfying but can be a difficult thing for some of us to do.

Giving compliments is a learned art form, where you have to put your fear and hesitation on the back burner, and authentically share you and your thoughts. Being able to do this successfully shows a part of your character and your value for other people. There was a time when I struggled with giving compliments because I found that the nice things I wanted to tell others about themselves were things that I did believe to be true for myself.

As a result It was difficult for me to tell people the nice things I wanted to tell them. Over time I worked through my issues and learned how to give compliments. Below are a few things I learned about complimenting that can help you to perfect your complimenting skills.

1) Never compare the person you’re complimenting to anyone else

As a woman complimenting another woman, you do not want her thinking that she stands in anyone else’s shadows or that they’re only appealing to you because they remind you of someone or something else. We all long to hear that we’re noticed because of our uniqueness and individuality, so rather than even mentioning anyone else try something like, “I love that you have such a unique personality, I’ve never met someone like you.”A compliment like this is individual and focuses only on the person you are complimenting.

2) Be specific

Tailor your compliment to the person to which you are speaking to. General compliments like ‘Oh I love your hair’ or ‘Oh your shoes are so pretty’ are both archaic and have become over used to the point that they no longer feel genuine anymore. To make a compliment as specific as possible try to strike up a conversation with the person you want to compliment and in that conversation, try and find something unique about them whether it be physical or non-physical.

For example if you find out they are involved in outreach/ charity work you could say something like ‘I love your giving spirit’ or ‘I love your passion for charity work’. A compliment like this not only shows that you are a nice person by giving it, but it also lets the person know that you were paying attention during their conversation.

3) Don’t give backhanded compliments

Now you’re probably wondering what in the world a backhanded compliment is, well no worries I am here to inform you. A backhanded compliment is where you give someone a compliment but you follow it with something negative, whether you meant it or not. For example saying something like, “Oh I love your hair, is it real?” Do you see the backhanded-ness? Most girls who aren’t of color don’t have the decency to leave it at ‘Oh I love you hair’. But try your hardest not to give backhanded compliments because it implies that you didn’t find anything to compliment them on in the first place.

4) Last but not least, do not expect anything in return

Think of giving a compliment as if you are giving a gift, a thank you may be nice, but not mandatory. Since compliments are gifts  you also  shouldn’t expect the person you are complimenting  to turn around and hand the gift right back. Unless you gave that person a birthday gift and you both happen to share the same birthday; if that’s the case then a gift in return is perfectly okay. But if not, then you should not be expecting anything.

Don’t make it seem like you are going out of your way or doing them a favor, because truthfully there are thousands of compliments to be given out to every black woman every single day and it won’t hurt us if one woman out of the millions doesn’t see something in us that someone else does.

All in all, as a community of black women we already have an enormous amount of odds stacked against on a daily, and in this community we don’t tear down, we empower and build up each other. Now that you’ve read this, apply the tips and go out and start giving out more compliments today!

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