The power of receiving and giving compliments

Giving and receiving compliments
Sometimes just a little compliment can make someone's entire day.

You simply have to love Canadian’s for their generosity in giving compliments. No envious looks when you’re enjoying both the last ray of summer and the comfort of a warm bum due to heated car leather seats.

I’m on the passenger seat of a black sporty German engineered car. And I have to contain myself not to lean out of the car window to catch the wind brushing the long hair out of my face just like the dog in the car in front of us.

We stop at a traffic light. A homeless guy with a big grey beard and a homemade poster asks for some coins. The light turns green and traffic pulls us forward before we can make a contribution to his travel fund. While we pass him the homeless guys shouts at us in admiration “nice ride” and waves his hands for a goodbye.

Change of location, the parking lot of the boat house. This is the last pit stop before the cabin in the woods. Here, everyone has to reload their possession that are needed for the weekend from their car to the boat. After observing me packing everything away in 2 minutes a lady salutes me. “I’m amazed that you managed to get everything you need in such a tiny trunk”, she says while her husband is still hauling boxes and coolers out of their truck. And she is right. I got that skill pinned down.

These are just two examples how people here in Vancouver made my day. The list of giving compliments goes on.

  • I run after the bus. The bus driver stops and adores my perfect stride and balancing abilities while running with shopping bags.
  • While glancing and admiring our loaded cart at the grocery store a man congratulates us with the words “I like the way you shop.”
  • After shredding a zucchini, panfrying some garlic and onion, mixing it with some heated tomato sauce out of a jar and assembling everything on a plate with a dash of Parmesan and fresh basil my better half compliments my fast food cooking abilities.
  • A(nother) homeless guy pushing a shopping cart turned while I ran by him and said “I have seen better.” And even this turned out to be some sort of compliment, I think, which still brings a smile to my face.

However, no matter the situation. Each time it makes me feel crazy happy and I revel in a receivers-high for a couple of hours.

But I like to share and return the favour of complimenting

  • I admire the cashier for remembering the number 90578 for Kohlrabi (which almost no one gets right).
  • We are having a party when my better half recalls a new German word because now he officially understands more German than your Canadian cat.
  • I shout, “I love your bike” when my running class and I ran past some coffee sipping cyclists stopping at Starbucks on Sunday morning.
  • And I openly adore a girl’s shoes, pants or hair if I really mean it.
  • I praise aphids for their exceptional good taste in choosing our garden as their home.
  • And I give kudos to our cat for her daily and earth shattering 5:56 am vocal performance that’s like a fire siren going off right next to your ear.
  • I reluctantly thanked an 80-year old lady author that I only knew from her book cover “My way to Rome” after recognizing her in the line in front of me. She turned out to be one of my inspirations to be a better runner.

Anyway. Giving compliments works magic. They have the power to turn your so-so day into a best-day ever. They help with posture (you just walk a little bit more upright) and train your face muscles (your smile just gets a little wider). Giving compliments is for the soul what melted butter is for sweet corn. Pure deliciousness. Not only do we benefit from hearing praise about us, but we also feel joy giving them to others. It’s a win-win situation. So keep praising.

Genuine vs. fake compliments

But be aware. It has to be genuine. A fake compliment makes you untrustworthy. Just like the sales person at the department store. “Yes, this looks pretty. The pink top goes perfectly well with our green skinny pants. No, I wouldn’t say that the XS version is too small for your European bulk body.”

A genuine compliment asks nothing in return. There is no suspicious motive (money, a ride home, false friendship) behind it. Compliments are best when they are forthright and spontaneous. They are especially awesome if you flattering a total stranger.

Learn to accept compliments

However, especially the species woman seem to have difficulties with accepting compliments. I find myself there sometimes too. “Wow, your hair looks lovely today.” And I would say: “Yeah, but I got these dry split ends.” Or someone would say: “What an awesome race. You nailed it.” And I would say: “Ah, it’s just because of my fast bike.”

Not accepting complimentsMaybe we try to look humble in these kinds of situations or actually think that this is not the truth. But as far as I know even a fast bike doesn’t get its powers just by the way it looks.

However, whenever we are downplaying compliments we are actually taking a big stick and knocking down the inflatable good mood balloon someone wants to gift us. Ever try to explain and calm down a child in distress after it figured out that the string in its hand was not properly attached to the pink unicorn balloon? Not such a pleasant experience.

Same goes for the compliment donor. You’re basically saying “Don’t talk bullshit” in a nice way. So gracefully learn to accept compliments and bath in the positive atmosphere. Answer with a thank you or simply a smile and pass on the good mood balloon another time to a person who deserves it.

Compliments are like doing secret Santa

Power of giving and receiving complimentsAnd now we are hooked and want more of the giver’s high and in addition some receivers-high. But some people simply don’t get it and have trouble praising and acknowledging you back. Don’t be discouraged. It’s not like on Twitter. If you follow me, I follow you. Think of your compliments more like doing secret Santa. You know who you give it to but you might get it back from someone you barely know.

Just trust in the law of giving and receiving. If you give to others you will receive. Everything in the universe wants to be balanced.

And often when people are not handing out compliments (like I was) are afraid of the answer or what the other person might think. Just keep up being a role model. Limit criticism and spread happiness.

Giving compliments is practicing awareness

In order to hand out compliments you actually have to take notice of the awesomeness around you. The health benefits of practicing awareness and mindfulness are endless and deserve a blog post of its own.

To sum up: giving compliments is fantastic. They make us happy and proud. And feeling good and happy contributes to health. So be generous in handing genuine compliments out but also inhale compliments that come your way.

By the way, I like the way you smile 🙂


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The power of receiving and giving compliments by
Tanja Knapp
About the Author
Tanja Knapp

Tanja Knapp is an Explorer, Adventurer and Happiness Hunter currently camping in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. Her roots are in Germany where she grew up on a remote farm. A colony of abnormal cells in her cervix taught her the lesson that would change her life forever. Life doesn't get better by chance, it get better by change. She truly believes in creating happiness & health through constant adapting, growing and evolving. Her super power is curiosity. With her blog she likes to inspire others to explore uncharted territory.

If she is not busy writing, running, swimming or cycling, she is expanding her knowledge, exploring the World, and taking on new challenges.

She is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and graduated with an Honors diploma in Holistic Nutrition from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in 2013. She obtained a Hospitality certification in 1998 and a Marketing Communications diploma in 2004. She has worked both in Europe and North America.

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