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!



  1. trish says:

    hi karen, this week i stumbled onto your blog and tonight have been clicking through your old posts and came across 2 weekend assignments — just say it out loud and do something you’ve never tried — so with one fell swoop here i am doing both lots of homework I LOVE YOUR BLOG !!!!! which i’m telling a total stranger by leaving a comment, never posted a comment before — so there it is homework finished and its not even the weekend yet — that is pretty amazing in itself as i believe deadlines were invented so we could procrastinate. Thanks heaps !!

    • Karen says:

      Welcome Trish! Now that I see how quickly you work I’ll have to come up with a bigger and better homework assignment for this weekend. ;) ~ karen!

  2. CIndy says:

    Along this line, but kinda related, is thanking people. I mean sincere, deeply felt thanks. I try to write letters to managers of businesses whose employee went above and beyond to make my experience in their store the best. I also celebrate Thanksgiving each year by writing a thank you to someone who made an impact in my life (or my children’s lives). Quite often this is a teacher that they had years ago. Sometimes it’s someone from my past who touched my life. We all find ample occasion to complain, but taking the time to sincerely “thank”……..That’s real gift giving.

  3. Brandy says:

    So I was completely inspired by this article. To the point that I have created a group called “A compliment a day” on Facebook. I added all my friends (hopefully they won’t want to strangle me!) but also told them it was ok to opt out with no hard feelings. Anyway the premise is that every day or so (when life allows) you are to go in to the group, tag someone, and give them a compliment. Whether something small or something huge. Just give somebody an unexpected present, a shout out, anything to make their day a little brighter. So thanks so much Karen!!! I found you through a pin on pinterest about created a wreath from a pool noodle and I was laughing so hard that I just new I had to read more by you. So thank you so much for the laugh AND the unexpected warm fuzzies.

    • Brandy says:

      gah, lol, you can totally tell by my spelling that it is 5AM!!!!

    • Karen says:

      No problem Brandy! Yup. I’m quite a dichotomy. You never know what you’re going to get here. And congratulations on your new Facebook page! ~ karen

  4. I was on vacation last week and missed all of your posts so I am just now catching up…BUT I did this probably everyday anyway(it’s my nature) and I met the loveliest people on the beach every single day. I think a compliment (sincere of course) is an invitation to get to know someone sometimes. And I can think of two people who actually stopped me on the beach to compliment me too. Both times we ended up talking for a while.

  5. Sara says:

    Awwww…you should visit the Souteastern United States or Texas. I have never once in my life experienced any of the fears you mentioned about complimenting complete strangers. We compliment one another unabashedly down here. Maybe it’s all that sugar we put in our tea. It makes us sweeter. ;)

  6. Deb says:

    I have been busy sewing flower girl dresses so have just now had a chance to catch up with Art of Doing Stuff,” which is totally unlike me….but there you have it. I haven’t had a huge chance to compliment anyone at all in the last few days since I haven’t really seen anyone in the last few days. I do have to share, though, that my granddaughter who is almost 4, and for whom one of the flower girl dresses is for, always seems to find something good to say about e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. Seriously. Everyone. It’s amazing. Don’t know where she gets it. She says things like, “I yike the color of your door,” or “I yike your car, Auntie Dadash (translation is Sascha).” Amazing. (She did say she loves the flower girl dress…whew). I am going to learn from this one, for sure.

  7. Michele preece says:

    A few years ago a friends husband told me “you’ve got great boobs” although I was a bit taken aback it was a lovely compliment especially when you realise the context. I’d just had a breast lump scare, he and his wife were the only friends I’d told because I needed her advise as I was scared ( she was 5 years into a cancer fight with secondaries just confirmed throughout her spine and hips). It really boosted me but I realise it was probably hard for him emotionally with all that ahead of them. Sadly she passed away last year on his birthday and in his eulogy he said everyday spent with her had been the best birthday gift ever possible. Got to go I’m welling up!

    Great assignment, you never know what other people are going through and that compliment might just get them to the other side of the crap.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Michele – I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. It’s a horrible, wretched disease. But yes, you’re right. One compliment can lift someone’s entire day and sometimes even more than that. ~ karen

  8. christine says:

    We went to a pub for lunch on Father’s Day and the waiter was working the whole place alone. The service was slow, but I took my assignment and told him I could see he was super busy and that he was doing a really good job. :)

    • Karen says:

      hah! That’s great. I had the same sort of experience at Rona the other day. A girl was in training and of course I was buying all weird stuff, most of which didn’t have a bar code on it. I told her not to worry and I was in no rush and think of how much she was learning through this single check out, lol! ~ karen

  9. Scott says:

    I saw a girl with a very intricate tattoo on her arm of a honey comb and a bee. I told her I liked it and asked her why she got a bee tattoo. Turns out it was an anti GMO Monsanto tattoo. She didn’t figure most people would understand the meaning but being an avid gardener I understood.

  10. Tigersmom says:

    I’m mildly riddled with guilt for not completing this assignment this weekend. I do compliment strangers regularly and compulsively when struck by something, but for me, it has to be genuine or it feels (and I think it comes across as) forced. I only came close to being struck by something once this weekend and the situation was such that I would have been intruding too much to get this girl’s attention

    Can I compliment Betty on her irresistible candor and spunk? And her leopard bathing suit, too?

  11. Janet says:

    Similar to a gratitude journal, this assignment helps us look for the good in life and my current readings remind me that whatever a person focuses on expands. So true. I really enjoy reading this blog. Karen, I enjoy your sense of humour and willingness to share. Thanks for a great blog.

  12. Linda S. in NE says:

    You do the nicest things, Karen. Thanks for the reminders.

  13. Jan in Waterdown says:

    This is for “danni” . . . after reading your post, my eyes welled up. You have a very fine daughter who is well on her way to being an amazing woman! I didn’t have nor want any children but I do know this is due, in no small way, to the way she was raised. Please give her a hug from an appreciative woman who will likely never meet her but thinks the world is a better place because she’s in it.

  14. Niki Dee says:

    Well, if a male complimented my books there would be no hesitation before I complimented his extraordinary eyesight. As a matter of fact a lady at the airport complimented me on my shirt today…now I know if she could’ve seen my books, she would have complimented me on those instead. ;)

    • Niki Dee says:

      And if I could see my keyboard… I would’ve corrected the auto spell to read boobs… but I will accept compliments on my books as well!

  15. Patty Reed-Pederson says:

    My husband wants to know what I am laughing about? You sure inspired all of us faithful followers.

  16. julesie says:

    I love the idea of this as a weekend assignment but this is a part of our regular routine here in midwest America. Maybe it isn’t as normal as I think is but my hubby regular will tell the sales clerk if she has beautiful eyes or compliment someone on a dress or hat or anything. Sometimes they look at you like your from another planet but mostly they just brighten up. Just last week he told a stranger her dress was really pretty and last night he told an acquaintance that her hair looked great down (cos it’s always tied up.) I tend to comment on things I love like someone’s jewelry or a talent. It seems silly to not say something. And I like it too. I have violet contacts and I bet at least once a week some stranger just stops me and tells me how cool they are. It makes me feel unique and special. But hubby and I both were dying over the boob thing. I am pretty sure that complimenting a total stranger on her boobs in small town MN will get you slapped. Ha. Or just thought of as that creepy guy. I am not even sure I would like being told I had great boobs by a stranger. A male friend that I trusted~ heck yeah, but some random guy.. not so much. I might be old fashioned. Ha.

    PS: Karen.. I think your blog is hilarious and I love your sense of style and playfulness. And you have cute hair.

  17. danni says:

    You never know what a small kindness can do. Yesterday was the last day of school here. My 13 year old came home and told me that a boy asked for her phone number. This is a kid that she had greeted every day and said goodbye to every single day, his locker was near hers. He told her that he wanted to keep in touch over the summer, because she (my daughter) had been the most important part of his day all year. That her kindness had ‘gotten him through’ the year.

    He is a kid without a lot of friends, chubby & nerdy and apparently gets teased somewhat by the turds in the school who will someday pump my gas. And in front of a hall full of kids, said these things to my daughter. Ripple away, kindness!!

    • Thank you of sharing this. I have a 13 year old and it is such a ROUGH age for some kids. Your daughter is a really sweet person for being kind to one of the kiddos who probably needed it the most. I’d hug her if I could. Well don raising her Mama!!!

  18. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Good grief . . . now look what you’ve started! Good on ya, Honey!!

  19. Ember says:

    My kids had VBS at church this week and they were “secret agents”. Each night they got an “assignment” for the next day and this was one of them. Random acts of kindness was another…for complete strangers. Great minds think alike! I love your blog. You inspired me to container garden so thats what the kiddos and I are doing this summer! So excited! Oh and with the compliment thing…I always try to give the moms in the store that have the screaming kid/babies a reassuring smile and tell them their baby is precious. As the mom of a baby who had colic, believe me, a smile without advice on what you are doing wrong is greatly appreciated.

  20. Kari says:

    I complimented the check out girls nail color today. I do that pretty often but I’ve never just walked up to someone and complimented them. Hmmm now I really want to so I’m doing this tomorrow.

  21. Debbie says:

    Thank you for a lovely and validating column. Complimenting people has been a way of life for me for a long time. Maybe it is because I never got compliments from my parents. (True.) As a teacher, whenever I had to call a parent for a negative reason, I made two calls for positive reasons – no matter how small the achievement. I have to admit, I enjoyed hearing the change of tone in a parent’s voice when they realized I was saying something good!

    Sometimes, I can’t help myself and will blurt our a compliment. People’s reactions are priceless.

    My view is that it is easy to complain, and it should be just as easy to compliment.

  22. Laura Bee says:

    Yes! I will continue! With a greater effort just because of you lol.
    Last night was the art fundraiser-I complimented a beautiful young lady in attendance. Gorgeous & sophisticated. Pin-up dress, red lipstick, great hair. Her mom was right there.
    Actually, those are the compliments I love to recieve, ones directed at my daughter for who she is & what she does. She is 3 1/2 and has been called “Fierce!”

    On a side note: if you were in Port Dover today for the Friday the 13th ride, I am sure you would have recieved many compliments on your boobs. Your cups would overflow with them.

  23. Laura N. says:

    I always find it interesting that my daughter can compliment people she doesn’t know.

  24. Kristin Ferguson says:

    I just complimented an old lady on her beautiful gray bun (the hair kind of bun) and she loved it. It really was a beautiful ‘do. It was in the Trader Joe’s parking lot, which has seen many of my complimenting attacks. Do you have Trader Joe’s in Canada yet? Because it is truly awesome and should be available to everyone.

  25. Becky says:

    This has been fun already today! I am working on a rain “barrel” (actually using a galvanized livestock trough idea found here: http://www.thebikegarden.com/2012/05/setting-up-galvanized-stock-tank-as.html ) to capture the water coming off my new shed, and spent the afternoon at Tractor Supply and Lowe’s getting all the parts.

    At Tractor Supply I complimented the young woman at the checkout on her knowledge of what I needed, and I think she was a bit surprised! And at Lowe’s the same plumbing guy who always asks me if I need help and I have to tell him no because I am just kitchen design browsing, helped me with the parts I needed to assemble a faucet on the trough; when I stopped back by and told him he had a great smile (and he does), he just smiled even more!

    Karen, I mentioned in an earlier comment that I do this some already, but doing it now with even more mindfulness has been really uplifting for me. After a really rough year last year, I am trying to “practice gratitude” even more, as well as connect more with the people around me. Your “assignment” has given me the little push I didn’t even realize I needed! Thank you.

  26. Karen says:

    What a sweet thought! Coincidentally I had a lady stop me last week at Walmart to tell me ” I was a beautiful woman”. Needless to say I was taken aback but it really made my day/month/year. I’ve had some tough times lately (marriage breakup) and it made me feel great to have a stranger stop me to make my day. Moral: you never know what people are going through and kindness is free so don’t be shy and pass along a compliment once in a while. It will make you feel better too.

    • Kari says:

      SO true. A little kindness can help someone going through something more than we may ever know. I know when I’ve been complimented on a bad day, even if it’s just a small thing, it REALLY made a difference.

  27. Mike says:

    I’m a man and I was raised Irish Catholic. This won’t end well.

  28. Nan Tee says:

    I think I can do this…and will try to do this every day. Have a great weekend, Karen. :)

  29. Doria says:

    Karen you have great knockers! Don’t be shy, show ’em off. High and proud for everyone to admire. You are an inspiration!

  30. Jan In Waterdown says:

    Hah!, it looks like I did my homework before I got around to reading today’s assignment. I just finished talking to the manager of my local Target to tell him how great the customer service is in his store and to point out the employess in particular, when I realized one of them was him. We tend to “ask for the Manager” when something’s not right but it’s fun to do it when something IS right! I call that Win-Win!

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