I read a post by The English Professor at Large. She was writing about kindness and love and the simple things you can do to make the world a better place to live. If you have a chance, read her piece. You probably already agree, but she says it so very well and with so much class.
I got to thinking that my version of that is to offer compliments (unasked for) to people who I expect are rarely offered a compliment.
I tell people they look great and they do. Maybe not for a 20-year old, but for them, they look fantastic. I tell them when they seem to have lost weight. I got a bullseye last week when it turned out she really had lost 50 pounds. I tell them they have a beautiful smile.
Saying nice things to people who don’t often hear them is the only gift i have to offer. I usually don’t know whether it was appreciated, but I know an unexpected compliment makes me feel good. Sometimes a bit embarrassed too, but what’s a little embarrassment between friends?
On the other hand, I am very wary of offering suggestions to anyone. I have a friend who takes pretty good pictures on her cell phone. She has come a long way, but can’t seem to remember to hold it level. Every picture is just a wee bit crooked. My pictures are crooked too, even with the leveler built into my camera. But I have Photoshop so I can straighten them later.
She doesn’t use any software. What it does mean is if the photo starts crooked, it will slant for all eternity. But she’s sharp. So I finally suggested she try and pay attention to holding the phone level when she shoots. I bet she will, too, because she is one of those “tell her once and she gets it” learners.
I’m pretty sure I complimented at least one follower into getting a better camera and she’s become an amazing photographer. Sometimes, a compliment, a well-meant suggestion can make a huge difference.
The most important part is to offer a compliment or suggestion without an expectation of payback and realize if you get rejected, drop it. The best thing is when you make someone feel better or improve their work or get them started in a different direction … and maybe they don’t even realize you’re the one who did it. When that happens, remember to never mention it. If you bring it up, you’ll ruin it.
Be happy. And shut up.