Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Shout out

When was the last time that you complimented someone on their actions or behavior rather than their appearance?
When was the last time you received a genuine compliment of this kind? How did it make you feel?
Explore this with me for a moment. We make and receive compliments all the time, but how often are they meaningful? 

Nice hair!
Cute dress.
Love those boots!
You look great today.
Wow, you have beautiful eyes

These are nice to get. Nice to give. They are easy. And rather meaningless. Think about what they emphasize... Something we all bemoan about our society. It's emphasis on appearance.  A compliment on your footwear? Really just says something about the complimenter.... She likes the same boots you like. A compliment about eye color? Something we have no control over! 

But, a genuine compliment about an action or behavior.... That can have lasting impact. 

I am sitting here thinking of the times I've been genuinely complimented on an action or behavior. I remember some of them so vividly, even from years past. But the memories are scarce.
Here's one: nursing school. ACK! It's awful, friends. Avoid it if you can. It's 2-4 years of curriculum that makes you doubt yourself in every way. But I had a gem of an experience with one instructor and I recall an incident during clinical one day. We were calculating medication doses or IV drip rates or some such and she asked me what dose I should give.  I was, somehow, able to answer her right away. She stopped and put her hand on my arm and told me she was so impressed because though it was not a difficult calculation, the ability to figure it out on the fly, in a stressful real life situation isn't quickly gained by nursing students. I was the only one to accomplish it that day. Now, if you know my math skills, you'll be as surprised by this story as I was. But it had such an impact on my confidence level! And clearly, I remember it many years later. 

Why don't we do more of this? 

I'm am challenging myself to look for opportunities to compliment people on their actions and behaviors. There are plenty of times I could. Times, like this morning when I was on the phone with "Rick" the computer support guy at the hospital. He was kind, patient, helpful and efficient. He remembered me from prior calls and didn't make me feel stupid or inferior. I was impressed. I thanked him for his help but failed to fairly compliment him for what was an unusually pleasant tech support experience.  So, belatedly, here's a shout out to Rick. Dude, you did your job so well, and I know I caught you just as you were leaving for lunch, but I appreciate your patience and your efficiency. 

Think of a time when you've been genuinely complimented for your work, or for your kindness, or for a particular skill that you have worked hard to perfect. Think how that compliment left you with a glowing feeling that lasted all day. Think about how formative these types of interactions could be if we made a point to catch people at their very best and let them know we noticed. 
Imagine the implications at work, 
or with your kids or partner.

So, I'm going to try. And I'd love it if you would try along with me. Let's notice the good and call it out. 

Thank you for reading to the end of this post!  Not everyone does, and I really appreciate you!  Now, take a moment and leave a comment.