Just say it out loud.
A weekend assignment for you.

 

Men. You’re gonna have a hard time with this.

But it doesn’t mean you’re exempt.

I have another weekend assignment for you. For some it’ll be incredibly easy, for others, absolute torture.

I want you to compliment someone.

I want you to compliment someone you don’t know.

You do not know this person from a hole in the ground. They are strangers. Maybe even strange.

There isn’t a single person on this planet who doesn’t appreciate a compliment and it’s even better when it’s from a stranger.

How often have you seen someone and thought “I love their hair.” Or their jeans or their sweater or their eyebrows? Usually we keep this information to ourselves. So then Miss. Perfect eyebrows, who probably spends half her life getting perfect eyebrows never hears about how we too think she has perfect eyebrows.

We’re all guilty of talking about other people behind their backs, and that doesn’t just apply to their questionable taste in footwear. We tend to do it with the good things too. Like, Renee looks great lately, doesn’t she? We’ll say that to whoever we’re standing beside. Unless we’re standing beside Renee.

In the grocery store we’ll see someone who has a nice wallet or an incredibly polite child. We just observe these things and keep them to ourselves.

But why? Why when a compliment is so easy to give and it makes someone else’s day so much better?

Because we’re afraid. Afraid of offending them, afraid of invading their space, afraid they’ll take it the wrong way, afraid we’ll somehow look like an idiot. Also we just can’t be bothered. It takes a lot of energy to muster up the breath and the sentence. Plus if you’re shy it’s even harder.

If you’re a man it’s doubly hard because if you compliment a woman you’re afraid you’ll be seen as hitting on her and if you compliment another man, you’re afraid you’ll be seen as hitting on him. It must be hard to be a man.

So this weekend, just compliment someone. That’s all. Anyone. Don’t make it up or compliment something you don’t really like, just for the sake of complimenting. Find something you like and say “I like that”. That’s all there is to it.

Women shouldn’t need much help in this area. It comes a little more naturally to us. Being kind and considerate and caring and complimentary. It’s our nature to nurture.

And for the men out there, you can never go wrong with complimenting another man’s car/motorcycle/callouses. And women will never be offended if you compliment their boobs. We like it. We think it’s great. Honestly. Trust me on this one, I wouldn’t leave anyone with such nice callouses astray.

It’s not in my nature.

Report back here once you’re done. I can’t wait to hear how it goes.

Have a good weekend!

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109 Comments

  1. Alison says:

    We don’t know each other, so here it goes: Karen, you have great boobs! And probably great callouses from all of your awesome projects. Hopefully not on your boobs.

  2. Alison says:

    Also, maybe for bonus points, we can accept compliments without minimizing ourselves. I think us ladies are particularly bad at this part of the game. Just say “thank you” and smile. My coworker and I are trying this on each other; we can usually last about thirty seconds before we say something snarky about the ourselves!

  3. Amber says:

    I love complimenting random people. It’s always a bit of a shock to them, and it is hard for me because I’m shy. But I love it. My favorite compliment this week I gave to my welding teacher, Hutch, a crusty ex-military guy who teaches industrial arts at the local tech highschool, along with adult ed. I told him that I’d been scared of arc welding for 14 years (since the technician who was teaching us in college set himself on fire and burned someone elses’ eyes). And then I had to do some arc welding for Hutch. But I asked myself which was scarier: a machine that could burn me, electrocute me and blind me; or disappointing Hutch?
    When I told Hutch this he stopped dead, and I knew I’d said something that really mattered to him. I’m glad it mattered.

  4. Amber says:

    p.s. Turns out I have a bit of a knack for arc welding 🙂

  5. Jamieson says:

    I am happy to say that I do this regularly and it makes me feel good as well as the receiver. I am getting better at accepting compliments too, per Alison’s comment. Also, if someone – even a stranger – has a stray boog peeking out of their nose, I tell them. It’s embarrassing for them in that moment but they are WAY happier that the next 100 people didn’t see it too (especially restaurant wait staff). It’s not giving a compliment to a stranger, exactly, unless it’s a particularly attractive booger but I’ve not encountered that scenario yet.

  6. Karen says:

    LOL! Good job. The fella took his welding machine when he left. 🙁 ~ karen

  7. Karen says:

    LOLOLOL. Omg. Now there you go getting the kids all riled up before bed. I’ll never fall asleep now. ~ karen!

  8. Becky says:

    I do this all the time. I wish I did it more. I see a lot of people, and I just want to walk up and tell them they are fabulous.

    karen, I think you might need a stack of these cards… we all should have at least one in our purse/wallet to hand out. http://indulgy.com/post/XwM3EXRp41/genius

  9. Jeff says:

    Hi Karen, as a guy I would like to let you know that I love your blog and been living your advice for the past 30 years!

  10. Kate says:

    Assignment accepted! One per day or one all weekend or as many as we think of?

    Here’s a start: I love your blog, I’ve thought it often but never said it.

  11. dana says:

    No leaving the house this weekend. Taking the dryer apart. Its making a screeching sound and not getting warm.
    When walking my dog I often get “I like your dog”. If they were to come toward me and my 5yr old they would get their head chewed off. Im sure they wouldnt like him then. I would absolutely DIE if a stranger told me they LIKE MY BOOBS! :O

  12. Becky says:

    My random person complement was to the makeup counter guy as I walked through the mall. He was beautiful with awesome hair. His hair was so different I had to complement Then we had fun talking about his hair and how much fun he has making it cool and interesting. I could tell he was happy I told him how cool I thought it was. Karen, this is my favorite assignment. I decided about six months ago to make an effort to smile at anyone who made eye contact with me. It’s been fun seeing some startled faces. I guess some people aren’t used to getting random smiles (or i look strange when I smile…….:@
    Keep it the fun stuff coming!

  13. Mindy says:

    Assignment accepted. I’m horribly uncomfortable and anti social, so this will not come naturally, but I’m doin’ it. Nice boobs might come across as strange. Nice tits is way more acceptable.

  14. jo says:

    I do this all the time, it is easy and makes people feel good, me too.
    Usually it is about shoes or children.
    I love kids, and I have shoe envy, been on crutches for 2.5 years.

  15. Susan Preston says:

    I always try to tell people how fabulous they look, great job they’ve done, or how kind they were to someone else. I’m told almost everyday how someone has appreciated what I have done for them, how they like something I made for them or even how neat my old truck is. The best appreciation is when one of my children , grandchildren or even my dog tell me how much they appreciate and love me. That makes my day even more special!
    I also enjoy finishing my day with you Karen and if I fall asleep, earlier than normal, starting my day! Thank you!

  16. Liz says:

    I try to live my life complimenting people because I agree with all – people just don’t complement others enough and it generally makes people feel good.

    The other day one of the ladies from uni was getting up and I noticed the front part of her bag was open and her lady things were kinda obvious, I said Oh your bag is open. She closed it and we both shared a laugh and a look saying “didn’t want to share that with the rest of the men in the room!”

  17. TucsonPatty says:

    I love this assignment. I try to tell folks (Store clerks, waiters, helpful folks) when they do something awesome and that I love it, and I also try to tell “the manager” when something is Not Right. How do these folks ever know when they are getting it right, or on the other hand, really blowing it…
    One of my now 22 year old daughter’s first sentences was “Let’s find the manager.” I laughed so hard at that. I am really proud that I do this often but I always need a reminder to step up the game…
    Karen, I appreciate you, your blog, and most of all your humor and integrity. I nominate you for the “Great Person of the Day Award”. The end.

  18. Pat says:

    I always figure that if I am thinking a complimentary thing about a stranger then “just do it” …ccompliment them on whatever it is you are admiring. Even if it is their terrific handbag or jacket, it still tells them they have great taste and look good. Usually the compliment leads to some social chit chat. In a store, I also do not hesitate to ask someone’s opinion about something I am thinking of purchasing. Strangers are more honest about how something looks on you than your friends and relatives when it comes to clothing items.

  19. Nicole says:

    Giving out compliments can do more than make the recipient feel good. You too could be the receiver of compliments if you follow it up with “where did you get that?” I once complimented the cashier at Costco on her jacket and went straight to the store where she bought it and got one for myself. Another time I saw a woman wearing an absolutely elegant sweater at the grocery store and I never said anything to her. I mentally told myself that I should get myself a similar sweater assuming that they were out there in the stores only to come up empty handed. If I’d only said something to her!
    Now I am a mom to an undeniably cute baby. I get compliments on her almost every time I go out and it always makes me feel good. Although I do find that about one in twenty people comes off as creepy complimenting a baby. I’m imagining these same people should not be complimenting strangers boobs.

  20. Heather says:

    Good one Karen!! I made this a personal challenge about 20 yrs ago when I read an article that said it takes 5 positive things to be said to someone to cancel out how they feel about one negative comment. I decided then that since I was brought up with “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” rule the opposite must stand as well. It is second nature to me now. It is awesome that you are getting strangers to be a source of good in other strangers lives. Love this.

  21. Flossie says:

    I love this idea, but you are so right. Accepting a compliment is harder than giving one. Someone says “I love that sweater,” and of course the first thing you say is ,”I got it at a garage sale,” rather than “thank you!”

  22. Ruth says:

    Easy-peasy….

  23. Tigersmom says:

    I do this. It drives my uber introverted husband nuts. That’s not why I do it. I literally can’t help myself.

    I’ve also been on the receiving end and it’s pretty awesome. Especially when you can tell that someone went a little out of their way to do it.

    You’re one of the only people that I don’t get highly annoyed with for telling me to do something.

  24. jane says:

    My personal mission: Each day I want someone to think “My life is brighter because I crossed paths with her.” Working hard to do that. Sometimes easy. Sometimes fun. Sometimes utterly nerve-wracking. (Oh god, what if I sound like my mom, who sounds creepy when she compliments people) But yes, well worth doing. Always.

  25. Randi says:

    I do this without thinking about it …I say a lot of things without thinking about it as well, but…I feel good making others feel good.
    I suppose i got the habit from my dad who could strike up a happy conversation with anyone. smile and you’ll always get a pleasant smile in return !

  26. Debbie Neal says:

    I will do this all weekend, even though I make it a practice to do it whenever I can. I also like to finish up a survey after talking to a service rep on the phone, with when asking how they did; I say that they should be given a raise!

  27. mayr says:

    Beautiful, lovely, wonderful Buddha-esque post.
    Thank-you for your gracious heart.

  28. marilyn says:

    i always try to do this…it makes other people feel great and i do too..win win ..my Mom was a champ at making people feel good.so kind and warm, she gave everyone the warm fuzzies.i try to emulate her in every way, she was amazing

  29. Danni says:

    Wow, strange karma here! Just the other day a complete stranger walked by me and said “nice haircut”… in the meanest mean girl voice ever! I couldn’t believe what I had just heard, faltered, and then couldn’t find her when I went looking for her to tell her that it was the best I could manage post-chemo, but I’m sure I would eventually grow hair she may approve of, but I doubted she would grow a brain. It still bothers me!
    Flip side, standing in line one day the woman behind me told me my look was adorable (!!! I’m in my 50’s!!) and she loved my haircut. I still smile at that. (I did look fierce! All about the boot!)
    Now that you made me put the two together, I will do this!!!

  30. Melanie says:

    Jamieson, I think we may be twins, separated at birth. My mother especially appreciates the nose thing (or spinach-in-the-teeth notifications), but I’ve found strangers do, too.

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve smiled at, talked to, and complimented people I don’t know. Pretty much every day. I think I got it from my parents (my now-grown son does it, as well). I never really think about it, until someone’s reaction makes me realize that a lot of people need more kindness and appreciation in their lives.

  31. sue says:

    My mother modeled this behavior and my daughter does it too. We all appreciate compliments and it is a win win since the giver and reciever both feel better. Complimenting people who provide a service is especially rewarding since they often hear rude comments. This is such a great reminder and I enjoyed reading the good will and ideas of others.
    I have got to get better about recieving them, tend to minimize what I hear, which is foolish.

    Boob compliments? I don’t know about that one…’-)

  32. sue says:

    Love the image!

  33. marli says:

    YAY!! I do this all the time. drives my husband crazy, and occasionally the kids too, though they are more like me in this department. I’m always talking to strangers, it’s the best way to make new friends and find out information you didn’t know (like: “hey, did it hurt when you fell face first into the tackle box?” yes, I’ve asked that a number of times and haven’t been punched out yet, smiles. most laugh and say “ABSOLUTELY!!”)

    anyway, cool assignment. you rock. does this count?

    smiles, marli

  34. jainegayer says:

    Wasn’t it Maya Angelou who said people will not remember what you said or what you did, but how you made them feel. And you are so right, Karen. We say the nice things in our head but we don’t take the time to tell the person. I know for me, it’s because I’m shy or I don’t want to be intrusive and I so need to get over that.
    Great assignment!!

  35. Sarah In Illinois says:

    I LOVE this project! I do try to compliment others once in a while, but not nearly enough!

  36. Ginny says:

    Wonderful idea! I will start with you. I came across your website about 8 months ago and I have been a huge fan ever since. I look forward to reading your articles every morning and have often thought about commenting on them but never have. I am a big DIYer so I love all your helpful hints and you are such a hoot! I shared your blog with my sister (also named Karen) and we think you are awesome!
    I will compliment as many people as I can this weekend…and going forward:)

  37. Dagmar says:

    There is this BBC show that my non-husband and I watch on a regular basis, and these people come on via Skype to a studio full of doctors and show all sorts of anomalies of body issues. When I say *show*, I mean, they whip everything out and the doctors usually say, please come closer to the camera so we can get a better look. Now, the name of the show is called “Embarassing Bodies” live from the studio. And their slogan is: there is no shame, we’re all the same. It’s actually rather fascinating, I don’t think I’ve snickered once, but I have felt sorry for some of these poor folks. So to make a long story short, you beautiful girl, Karen, are preaching to the choir, I tell people how I love their purse, or haircut, or shoes. I have no problem asking where they have purchased something. Why? Because we are all the same- everyone feels good when they are noticed. And boy have I gotten some amazing advice, just by complimenting, and asking where someone got something. And I always learn a thing or two if I mention it to an elderly person, because they have the best stories.

  38. Ev Wilcox says:

    Yes to everything, but the boobs. Do NOT like any comments on mine, unless from my sister or sister-in-law. They are large, not perky (do not recall them EVER being perky!) So, NO BOOB comments! I do the compliment thing often. Most of the time it seems appreciated. I remember it was hard to get started, but I was determined to try to spread a bit of happiness, so I do it pretty often. Feels good,doesn’t it?! BTW, a roast beef dinner sounds great! I do them whenever I feel like it-does not have to be a cold, snowy day! You rock, Karen!

  39. Becky says:

    I’m lovin’ this! A good reminder…. I already do this to a certain degree anyway, but more cannot hurt! And the impact of the random compliment was impressed upon me recently when a woman in the grocery store told me she really liked my hair. (I let my hair go gray years ago, in my 30s, and it was nice to have someone tell me they liked it–and that wasn’t even one of my better hair days.)

  40. Tracey says:

    Great assignment.
    Technically you asked us to report back “after” the weekend, so I hope we get to hear some comments on what kind of compliments were given and the reaction to them.
    I also have been doing this forever. I think because I never real felt good about myself, and was not complimented at home, rather the opposite. It was awful.
    Now, I have a desire for others to feel good about themselves, and in a smal way maybe I can help with that. The most beautiful woman/man in the world may have a lot of insecurities. about 25 years ago I was in a very bad depression. I was walking aimlessly through the grocery store, as basic tasks were near impossible. A stranger gave me a compliment and it brightened my spirits in a very dark time. I’ve never forgotten that.
    Thanks again for suggesting this Karen. We live in stressful times with declining personal
    Interactions, and we need to get back to talking and being nice to real people. Hope that makes sense.

  41. Irene says:

    You get so much good stuff back too! Warm and fuzzy. 🙂
    I too, don’t keep my mouth shut much, but I have to tell you about my favourite ever response.
    It was a few years ago. I was in the pharmacy, and the most beautiful woman walked in; you know, the kind of person you just eat up with your eyes and can’t look away? She must have been in her late 70s, with long pure white hair done up in the most elegant soft bun, perfect discreet make-up, just right for her age and face, skin you ached to touch, and the most lovely, understated and yet so elegant outfit. Everything about her softly whispered style and elegance.
    I went up to her after standing and staring for far too long, and said: “Excuse me, but I was staring at you and just had to come and tell you that I think you are very beautiful.”
    After her initial second or two of startlement, she told me that no one had said that to her in many years and that I had said it at just the right time, when she needed it most. I got the HUGEST hug too; the best reward ever. 🙂
    The warm and fuzzies!

  42. Karen says:

    Thanks Jeff! ~ karen

  43. Karen says:

    LOL! ~ karen

  44. Karen says:

    You’re very welcome. 🙂 ~ karen

  45. Karen says:

    Welcome to your first comment Ginny! And thank you. ~ karen!

  46. Rondina says:

    Every once in a while, when I compliment a young business woman on how nice she looks, there are some that look at me strange. I don’t know what to make of that. Older women just say thank you and appreciate it. Sometimes it leads to discussions about where we buy our clothes or who does our hair.
    A random compliment is equal to a random act of kindness like paying it forward. Living in an urban area, I wonder if these younger women have never received a compliment from someone they don’t know. I stopped complimenting men about anything long ago. I got the feeling that they thought I was coming on to them. With the gray hair now, that shouldn’t be a problem now.

  47. nancy says:

    Hey! If I did get it at a garage sale, that makes it even more awesome!

  48. Linda B says:

    I. Love. This.

  49. Jennifer says:

    I was at the gas station the other day and I was yelled at by a crazed woman. She yelled, “YOU TOOK MY SPOT!” I yelled back, “I LOVE YOUR HAIR!” That was that. No road rage report taken. No pepper spray. She just left. Once in a while I’ll pay for the person in back of me in the starbucks drive thru. Someone did that to me one time and it was such a nice thing to do. Made my day.

  50. Bernard says:

    The Long Evolution:
    1. She wrote, ” Men. You’re gonna have a hard time with this.”
    He thought, ‘EGads…another female product review…run a-way…RUN A-WAAAY!!! (Best used as always in the voice of King Arthur a la Mont Python)’

    2. She wrote, “But it doesn’t mean you’re exempt.”
    He thought, ‘Uh-oh! Let’s see, so far, I have something which is common to women, and I may (probably) shrink from the topic. If the words anus and commensurate number of nerve endings are in the following paragraph, see above and watch some old NFL footage (preferably with snow and blood) immediately and for a prolonged time.

    3. She wrote, “I want you to compliment someone. I want you to compliment someone you don’t know.”
    He thought, ‘Ouch! Hey! That was an unkind cut. I always compliment people…when I want something.’
    4. She wrote alot of stuff.
    He thought, ‘ True enough.’
    5. She wrote, “If you’re a man it’s doubly hard because if you compliment a woman you’re afraid you’ll be seen as hitting on her…”
    He thought, ‘Experience is the best teacher, because – THAT’s HOW WOMEN REACT FOR REAL! And so do the men who may witness such compliments.’
    And as She continued to write, “…if you compliment another man, you’re afraid you’ll be seen as hitting on him.”
    And so he gasped outloud, ‘Only if You’re insecure about what You really are! Ha! Take that back to the store.’
    Then She said, “It must be hard to be a man.”
    He noised, “Duh?!”
    But then he thought, ‘Does beat the alternative, eh?

    6. She wrote more good stuff, but then, “And women will never be offended if you compliment their boobs. We like it. We think it’s great. Honestly. Trust me on this one, I wouldn’t leave anyone with such nice callouses astray.”
    He thought (after the gut-wrenching laugh spasms had eased), ‘Mmmmkay, I now have someone in Canada upon whom I can rely upon for bail money. Excellent. Just 47 more States, 8 Provinces and Quebec to go – then I’m covered.’
    7. Then She wrote, “It’s not in my nature.”
    The word Nature rang in my ear (the one on the right is currently suffering from an infection, so the ringing was not nearly as distinctive). I don’t really proffer compliments for gain…at least not anymore. The resulting smile is complimentary enough. That I think is in our collective Nature…to please one another on an honest-to-goodness basis.

    That is why I think this is the best assignment of all.

    Thanks Karen…for a great place to visit and a worthy injection of “just do the Right Thing”.

    You da best.

    Cheers.

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