What's the biggest compliment you've ever received?
That was the question I had to answer during a party game played over dinner with some girlfriends not long ago.
I sat there for a minute trying to think of something.
"I can tell you the worst 'compliment' I've ever received," I told them.
"Once a woman came up to me and said, 'I'm sure you hear this all the time, but do you know who you look like?'
" 'No,' I said.
" 'Susan Boyle,' she said with great enthusiasm.
" 'Oh,' I said to her, while thinking, You mean I look like the woman who became famous for being unattractive?"
My friends around the table laughed with me, and they quickly assured me I do not look like Susan Boyle (though I can see a resemblance, curly hair, round face).
It's funny how our minds work, isn't it? I could quickly think of a non-compliment, but I struggled to remember something someone said to support and encourage me.
My friend, Ann, sitting next to me at the table, gave me a wonderful compliment. "Becky spoke at our women's retreat a few years ago. She was down-to-earth, I felt like I could relate to her. She had me laughing one minute and crying the next," she said. That was really nice.
When I had time to think about it, I remembered other times people said things that helped me believe in myself a little more.
I remembered my friend, Chris, telling me I was her favorite writer. I found it hard to believe—her favorite? But it meant a lot to me.
I remembered my junior high choir teacher writing in my yearbook, "You are full of potential." I'd only been in his class for one semester, so I was surprised he'd write that. Maybe he said it to everybody, but I remember thinking, He sees potential in me? Wow!
I remember my father talking to a new family at our church when I was in junior high. They had a daughter my age, and my dad, not knowing I was standing behind him, said, "She'll enjoy my daughter Becky. She's a
lot of fun." What a nice thing for my dad to say.
My friend Jane signs her emails with a quote from one of her teachers: "You never know whom you'll influence nor when nor how" (Sue Mousseau).
She's right. But while you may not know how or when you might influence someone's life, you can be sure you won't make a difference if you never say anything nice to someone. So do it. Today. Tell someone they did a good job. Acknowledge a strength. Pay someone a sincere compliment—one they'll remember even in the middle of a party game.