The Careful Use of Compliments..

I wrote this article several years ago, but thought it would be nice to post it again..

The “Careful Use of Compliments” is the title of a book I read by Alexander McCall Smith…I have taken this book along to appointments and on the subway, as it’s perfect light reading, and everywhere I go people ask me if it is a book about manners in today’s society…before I can explain that the story has really nothing to do with manners in society, they would say, “it’s about time a book like that was written”, or “we really need something like that these days”…this has happened so many times that it started me thinking…is it true that we need a book to tell us how to pay compliments to each other?

I felt I had to do some more research

The Webster Dictionary defines a compliment as:

An expression of praise, admiration, or congratulation .

1. An expression of admiration or congratulation: commendation, congratulation (often used in plural), praise, tribute..
2. An expression of warm approval: acclaim, acclamation, applause, celebration, commendation, encomium, eulogy, kudos, laudation, panegyric, plaudit, praise..
3. An act requiring special generosity: beau geste, courtesy, favor

I did some research and found out that there is actually a “Give a Compliment Day” which takes place every year on February 6th….we have actually established a specific day to express how much we appreciate each other

Further reading elicited these results:

Compliments are a simple, yet powerful, relationship building tool. There are many different reasons to give a compliment. The most compelling – it makes you feel good. You cannot give a sincere compliment without feeling great. It’s impossible. Why does it feel so wonderful to pay a compliment? Because you are connecting honestly, directly, and kindly with another human being. It is a basic need that doesn’t get met often in our fast-paced, media-hyped, negative-slanted, technical world.
There are also many hidden benefits to giving compliments. It’s amazing that such a small, simple skill like giving away compliments can change the way you view yourself and the world around you. It will strengthen your relationships, boost your self-esteem, and increase your self-confidence. You will experience joy and happiness as you learn to give selflessly

The famous psychologist, Dr. George Crane, said, *"Appreciative words are the most powerful force for good will on earth."
Just what is this power of positive words in conversation? It is simply that people instinctively seek the pleasant, avoid the unpleasant. In giving a compliment, you will notice that you have improved not only your human relations vocabulary, but also your personality. Your philosophy of life has become more constructive. This is because you are absorbing, and using the power of positive words

I can live for two months on a good compliment…Mark Twain
What flatterers say, try to make true….German Proverb

It is great to get praise from the lips of taciturnity
..John Addington Symonds

To sum up: it seems that in complimenting others the way we do every day on RedBubble, and expressing our gratitude, with each positive word used, we are improving our own health and well-being, and as such we will enjoy longer life and enhanced creativity

And the book that started the debate?….It’s about Edinburgh sleuth, and philosophy journal editor Isabel Dalhousie, who wonders why two brand-new paintings by a dead Scottish artist have suddenly come on the market and tries to unravel the mystery…Janis


  • Barry W  King
    Barry W Kingabout 2 years ago

    Thanks for posting this article Janis, most interesting, I’m very interested in getting that book now.
    many thanks :)

  • If you enjoy McCall Smith’s books this collection about Isabel Dalhousie is different but just as good as his other works…great for reading on the train, except you get so engrossed you might miss your stop…glad you enjoyed the article…thanks so much for letting me know…

    – © Janis Zroback

  • Corri Gryting Gutzman
    Corri Gryting ...about 2 years ago

    And may I say how much I appreciate you and how much you have added to my knowledge and how many times you have brightened my day? Thank you for sharing this. :)

  • Lovely of you to say so Corri…I really appreciate your taking the time to stop by and comment…feedback helps me to decide whether I should continue posting articles or not…thank you so much…

    – © Janis Zroback

  • Alison Pearce
    Alison Pearceabout 2 years ago

    A great article and I love the Mark Twain quote! I must admit that my mother constantly placed in our minds as youngsters the old saying, ïf you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all", and it is an approach I continue to take.
    A simple compliment is much more rewarding for both parties, and slides easier from the tongue, than a reproach that benefits nobody.
    As for the book, sounds interesting!

  • The book was great…I love all his books…thank you so much Alison…glad you enjoyed it and nice to see you..

    – © Janis Zroback

  • Mui-Ling Teh
    Mui-Ling Tehabout 2 years ago

    _It’s amazing that such a small, simple skill like giving away compliments can change the way you view yourself and the world around you. _

    I must say this is very true… When I first started out on Redbubble I was essentially in my own bubble, posting my own things while barely taking the time to looks at works by other people – I wasn’t even following anyone at the time (needless to say Redbubble is the first art site I’ve ever joined, and the first place I’ve ever interacted with new people at all). It was actually not until one compliment I received that really moved me that I really began interacting here actively – and the more I did it, the better I felt; the more a part from the community I felt. It is true, we are improving our own health and well-being this way.

  • Definitely it changes your life…what’s more it might just change somebody else’s as well…“a soft word turneth away wrath” as the saying goes…glad you like the article…thanks so much for the feedback

    – © Janis Zroback

  • Donna19
    Donna19about 2 years ago

    I have no doubt about any of this Janis. Common courtesy is a thing of the past but not yet dead. We need only to revive it and get out of our own way if you know what I mean. I appreciate this work so much. Thank you!

  • You’re very welcome Donna…I hope it’s still alive…I see people in the media and politics being insulting to others and wonder how children are supposed to learn any better…thanks so much for joining the discussion…

    – © Janis Zroback

  • JohnDSmith
    JohnDSmithabout 2 years ago

    What you write is so true,….
    I have notice people in my own family that never compliment any one on anything,….
    Most of the things that come from their lips are so negative,…and I also notice they do not seem to be very happy,……
    From my many years of living I have found that making other people happy has improved my enjoyment in life,…
    What Twain said about a compliment really goes for most all of us,….
    So just think how good you can make others feel,….and most are happy to return the same to you,….
    So,…..Congratulation on a fabulous post,….I enjoyed reading it very much,…

  • I am thrilled that you enjoyed it so much…it’s what I truly believe and bears saying over and over again…thank you so much for the feedback..

    – © Janis Zroback

  • Elizabeth Bravo
    Elizabeth Bravoabout 2 years ago

    Well Janis. I would like to give you a huge compliment. You often post wonderful thought provoking journals, but this has made my day. It reinforces the reason that I do FEEL so good when I come to red bubble. I love finding the things that I relate to, and giving a smile or a thumbs up to that artist. I know that comments mean so much to me. Just that anyone is watching and taking a moment in their day to see my work, it is such a compliment. THANKS JANIS…..wonderful journal. I love it!! xxxooo

  • Thank you so much for letting me know that you enjoyed it Elizabeth…making people feel good makes us feel good in turn….it’s so easy to say a good say well done…and of course in retune to say thank you…

    – © Janis Zroback

  • kamaljeet kaur
    kamaljeet kaurabout 2 years ago

    Loved this post Janis!!!! Thanks for sharing :)

  • You’re very welcome Kamaljeet…thank you for letting me know…

    – © Janis Zroback

  • Corri Gryting Gutzman
    Corri Gryting ...about 2 years ago

    Hi Janis.
    I always read what you post (when I find it) and have found all of them helpful.
    I haven’t always commented because of my own lack of confidence in adding something useful to the conversation. But if I haven’t thanked you for those before, please accept my heartfelt thanks now. You are a pillar in the RB community and I cannot even begin to describe how much you contribute. :)

  • You don’t know how much feedback on these articles mean to me…they get tons of views, but a comment tells me it was worth posting even if it’s only one or two words…I know people are busy and don’t have time to say much, but it’s reassuring to know that they found the post helpful and keeps me interested in doing more research and writing the articles, instead of keeping these gems all to myself.. :))

    – © Janis Zroback

  • maggie326
    maggie326about 2 years ago
    it seem like a Very interesting book Janis . Thank you for sharing the article with us
  • The book was very enjoyable, especially as it was all about art and art theft..glad you enjoyed the article Maggie…thanks so much for letting me know…

    – © Janis Zroback