Last week I got together with about 300 or so of my closest friends (a.k.a. clients and industry peers) for an annual outing on Lake Michigan.
This event is always a little nostalgic for me for reasons not relevant to this post but this year’s was particularly emotional. After two years of fairly rough waters, my life has resumed what I would consider smooth sailing. My bank account looks hurricane-ravaged. My self-esteem has been leveled like a tornado tore through it. Yet on that boat, I felt the warmth of some of my sunniest days.
There were some unabashedly joyous reunions. I loved every one of them.
Two were outright surprising though. Both former male colleagues, whom I liked then and now, gave me what seemed like spontaneous, candid insight about how they see me.
In the order they were given, “Christine is like, ‘Process, Schmocess. What do you need done? Pffft! I got this.'” and “Christine is like TWENTY MEN… and three women.”
I was flattered, humbled, awed, and tickled all at the same time. It has been a long time since I felt like I had the world by the proverbial balls but neither of these guys knew that. They still saw me as the maverick, competent, sometimes legendary gal they worked alongside.
HOW. GOOD. IS. THAT.
It got me thinking about other great compliments I’ve received in my life. There was the female classmate in Japan who told me that I was the perfect balance between masculine and feminine. There was the high school crush who told me I may not be the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen but I was definitely the sexiest. There was the man who said I was the most grown up person he’d ever met in his life. And that same man also said that he never thought about having kids until he met me. When he finally told me his feelings, he said “Christy, I don’t just love you. You’re the love of my life.” I married him.
But I don’t think compliments are common. If reality shows are any indication, I think we tend to experience schadenfreude more than we share our admiration, respect, or pleasure for people. Why is that? And how do we unlearn that behavior?
With the inexorable deluge of criticism playing on a loop in my head, it is refreshment to hear something positive from another. It helps me silence my past, my family, my ghosts and view myself more fairly, as I am, right now. I know I’m not alone. Women, especially, seem to be finding new ways to hate and punish themselves all the time. And when we REALLY hate ourselves, we often punish each other.
In face, I think we’ve gotten so bad at being nice to ourselves that many of us have forgotten how to TAKE a compliment as well as how to give one. I would bet that if we got better at both, the popularity of the behavior would grow exponentially.
What do you think?
Want to do an experiment with me? Ok… for the rest of the week, give out five GENUINE compliments. They can be spontaneous or premeditated. You can give them to strangers or to family. You can give them all to the same person or to five different ones.
Listen to what they say after you give them the compliment.
Then come share your experience here. I really find your stories interesting!
(Four to go…)