The next installment of my monthly level-up series is saying more compliments to friends. In the fall, 2018, I was moving from D.C. to Minneapolis and starting a new job. Life changes like that lead to reflection about what we value. We decide what we want to take with us in the next step of our journey. In this case, I wanted to take my friends and the relationships I had built during the previous few years.
One way to build up friendship is to make others feel better when being with you: for example, giving reassurance and compliments.
Usually, I would compliment someone in a reactionary way. I would notice something different and point it out. Or, I would give a compliment in return for receiving one. But then I tried something new and proactive.
I gave compliments by sharing my gratitude: thankfulness toward a shared connection, appreciation for their support, and gratefulness for being a part of my life. It was helpful on phone calls, since phone calls are ways of catching up, not shared experiences. It’s way easier to compliment someone in person or by sharing an experience: “hey you danced well” or “good job crushing those noobs”. But over the phone, I didn’t have those things. Instead, I focused on gratitude for their pure existence.
As a result, I noticed myself thinking harder about why I’m grateful for specific friendships. Genuine caring drove me to enjoy giving compliments. I didn’t do it out of obligation. I felt more motivated to spend time with the people for which I’m grateful. And the little extra effort wasn’t too difficult after some practice. I explained my motivation for continuing to connect with that person. That way, the compliment is genuine, transparent, and positive.
I kept up this improvement for about a month. Then I tapered off. But I still come back to gratitude in my friendships. I now think more actively about how much appreciate people in my life. And for you, dear reader, I learned that a little compliment can move others into hope and joy. I’m grateful for your attention!