A Compliment is a Gift

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo Buscaglia

A compliment. Has a well placed compliment changed your life? Have you complimented someone else and perhaps not realized that you have given them the greatest gift they have ever received? Do you ever give compliments or do you refrain in order to save the potential receiver a life of arrogance and narcissism?

Like it or not we, as humans, need affirmation in our lives to feel as though we are accomplished at something … anything. Choosing not to share a compliment with someone could change their outlook on life just as strongly as sharing the accolade can alter their future or, at the very least, the rest of their day.

A good compliment, however, must be made in honesty and sincerity in order for it to be believable. There are those, like Mr. Collins from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice who work overtime in their attempts to lay down the perfect praise at the perfect moment. When questioned about his “gift” of flattery, Mr. Collins responds, “They arrive chiefly from what is passing at the time, and though I sometimes amuse myself with suggesting and arranging such little elegant compliments as may be adapted to ordinary occasions, I always wish to give them as unstudied an air as possible.” Insincerity. It can destroy what little good may have been intended. We must all learn to differentiate between a compliment and empty flattery.

The greatest compliment I have ever received was in regard to my children, not myself. As a parent, I try to raise my children appropriately. There is no greater accolade to my ears than to hear adults in other areas of my children’s lives tell me that my efforts have not been in vain. Currently my children are visiting my parents in Missouri and they have been applauded for their good behavior and manners from individuals at the church, at area restaurants and by my own parents. This is a great compliment to me indeed.

A compliment. Have you received one recently? Have you given one recently?

What is the greatest compliment you have ever received?

(August 2007)


  1. You ask a few questions in this post, Beth. I am too influenced by the fermented grape at present to respond to them all individually, or even collectively.

    However, I would thank you---correction: I do thank you.

    You are pretty good yourself at the sincere compliment. It is a pleasure to know you, albeit via the written word, of which you are a skilled embroiderer, where "embroidery" means aesthetic but not mendacious elaboration. Bless you.

  2. Jealousy! I wish I was a little "influenced by the fermented grape" right now. Alas! I am still at work ... where nothing is happening and I'm perilously bored.

  3. I have myself often quoted the Buscaglia words you open with, and am overjoyed to see it here. Thank you for choosing it for your post. I'm afraid I can't answer the question as to the greatest compliment I have received as I am quite handicapped when it comes to receiving compliments to the point I wonder if I am able to hear them at all.

    To compliment others, however, is something so natural for me as to feel like second nature. For me, I see the beauty and talent in others in a way that excites my heart to bursting, and makes me want so much for them to be excited about themselves too, so it is not something I try for, it just flows from my heart without much thought actually given to timing or words or form.

    I do want to offer my thanks to you for your two sites have touched me deeply upon clicking through to them tonight. I offer gratitude to you for creating lovely pixels in cyberspace (a place that needs more beauty such as this) that fill my heart with inspiration through words so wonderfully constructed as to make me fall in love with language all over again.

    I also congratulate you on such a beautiful compliment, and offer my thanks to you for being a parent whose children display the result of the love, care, time, and attention given to the most important role a person can be blessed with in their life. Your children will make this world a better place to live in because of your care, a better place not just for them, but for everyone.

  4. I'm so glad that you enjoy my site and humbled by your wonderful words of encouragement. Thank you!

  5. Paying compliments is a nurturing activity that I think of as characteristically feminine, for men are sometimes too competitive to notice the virtues of others, except perhaps with anxiety.

    I can imagine a woman whose vocation is to detect the praiseworthy in those whom she encounters, and express it to them. Sometimes we think someone is already a bit too cocksure and flawed and needs the reverse - a bit of gentle criticism, or tactful silence. I do a bit of that, when it seems called for.

    Nothing can be more glorious though than to bring out the potential in someone who is too blind to see it for himself or herself - just by spelling it out in detail.


"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman


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