Monday, December 7, 2009

How to Help the World, One Person at a Time...

A few years ago, there was a day that my oldest daughter needed a ride to an event. On the way, she asked if we could stop to get a sandwich so we pulled into a nearby sandwich shop. I followed my daughter in because someone had to pay the bill and of course teenagers never have any money! Once the sandwich was made very young, dark haired girl moved gently to the cash register. Her methodical quiet pace revealed her to have a slightly reserved personality. Without making eye contact, she gave me the total cost in a slight whisper. I in turn, fumbled for my pink wallet amongst the vast array of crinkled receipts in my purse. (Where do they all come from?) As I looked up into the youthful employees face, I noticed that she was wearing adorable eye glass frames which complimented her personal beauty. Without hesitation, I blurted out, “Wow. You have really great eye glass frames. I love how they look on you. They are a perfect fit for your face.”

What happened next is the part of the story I really want you to catch. This reserved, bashful girl raised her torso, lifted her chin, and got a big smile across her face. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Thank you!”

My daughter and I left the sandwich shop and drove off to her event. Yet, I just could not release from my mind, the vision of that young girls reaction back at the store. All I did was share an honest, heartfelt compliment. Yet it seemed to turn her world around. By watching her body language, it was as if her self-confidence increased. The quick compliment sure made her smile. All I could think about was the amazing transformation that happened to an individual, just because I chose to give a compliment.

Since that time, I’ve often wondered, why don’t people give more compliments?

Here are three reasons I came up with – see if you agree.

1) Possibly it is a TIME issue. After all, we are busy people. You and I are time pressed. We live in a microwave society where we like things to happen instantaneously. Yep, that’s it. People probably don’t give more compliments because it takes too much time. Well, the compliment I gave to the employee must have taken me about 20 seconds – maybe less. If you and I talked about it, I bet we would agree that giving a compliment and making someone feel great actually doesn’t take much time at all. It is something we all can do while we are ‘doing’ life. So if it is not a time issue that people don’t give more compliments, what is it?

2) Maybe it’s FINANCIAL - People are constantly talking about their shortage of money, fuel prices, foreclosures on homes, and the overall mess that the economy is in. Maybe people don’t give more compliments because it costs too much money. Let’s think about it for a second. How much did it cost me to say a few nice words to this young girl? I think we can all concur that this compliment withdrew nothing from my wallet. The sandwich still was the same price. So if it is not because of finances that people don’t compliment more, what is it?

3) This time I think I’ve got it. It must be EFFORT. Sure, there it is; it takes too much effort for us to compliment someone else. Well, I don’t know. Maybe it wasn’t all that hard. I can tell you one thing, I was NOT in the parking lot outside of that sandwich shop giving myself a pep talk and doing cardio vascular exercises in preparation for a big event inside the restaurant. No way. My teenage daughter would have disowned me as her mom! Truth is, it took zero effort on my part to pass along a deserving compliment that day.

So if it takes very little time, no money and the smallest of effort, why don’t people give more compliments?

Might I offer a suggestion? Could it possibly be that we are so caught up in ourselves and our daily happenings, that we are forgetting to look at who is across the counter from us? Maybe?

Helen Keller was such an incredible person, overcoming huge challenges in her lifetime. She said, “To the world you may be just one. But to one, you may be the world.” Now go back and read that again. Chances are that you thought of a very special person that did or said something to you that changed your world. Remember how it elevated you? Remember how gushy you felt inside? Did you smile or was a full-fledged beam from ear to ear? How else did it impact you? Is that a feeling that should be felt by more people?

I encourage you to pay that feeling forward to someone else. What better season to say something nice to another. Just think what would happen if you and I started a complimenting revolution? We could together make an impact that would reverberate across the land. How awesome it would be to see a changed world. Go ahead start today. What are you waiting for? Go out and make a difference in this world – give a compliment.

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