On compliments

Sometimes it is easy to compliment people. Telling your friend she looks especially pretty today, a colleague that you like her shoes or a blogger that you like her outfit is very easy indeed – these compliments roll off the tongue/keyboard without any real effort. Equally, after a couple of glasses of wine, telling that girl in the toilets that you like her bag can be as easy as pie. But soberly telling a complete stranger that you like what they’re wearing can be intimidating, challenging even.

Lauren wrote a post this week about a guy who chased her down the street to tell her how lovely she looked, and I mentioned last week the lovely lady who followed me into the station for the same reason. I’ve also blogged in the past about how much more a compliment from a stranger can sometimes mean to a person than one from, say, their mother (whose job is, afterall, to think their daughter beautiful!). So, knowing all of this, why do I still find complimenting strangers something of a challenge?

Dapper Chap has no problem complimenting complete strangers. His feelings on the matter are that women aren’t told often enough how lovely they are, and it’s at least partly his job to fix that! Rifling through ball dresses recently (yep, just another Saturday afternoon shopping excursion…) he told the young lady trying prom dresses on how beautiful she looked while I blushed. I don’t know why I blushed, I was just embarrassed – I think for her. She blushed too, but from pleasure! So why was I embarrassed?

There’s a plump and sour-faced lass on my bus most mornings, who complains loudly about being tired and miserable the entire bus ride to work. She wears trousers, trainers and the same oversized hoody every single day. But today she boarded the bus in a lovely purple tunic with beading around the v-neck, a cami top, leggings and sandals. The purple really suited her skin tone, and the cut was really flattering to her shape. She still looked sour-faced, but the colour gave her a glow that softened the overall effect somewhat. When the bus stopped I harnessed my courage and made my way to the front doors, out of my usual way, so that I could speak to her.

“I see you on the bus most mornings. I just wanted to tell you how nice you look today.”

I was off the bus before the compliment really had time to land, but not before her sour face broke out into the broadest of smiles! She looked radiant. And I felt elated.

Next challenge: tell the astonishingly curvy lady who packs her bod into a pencil skirt or wiggle dress every single day how amazing she always looks. Because GOOD LORD she does!


2 thoughts on “On compliments

  1. I don’t know why it’s so hard for us to be nice to strangers – I think it makes us feel vulnerable in that the compliment might be taken in the wrong way. I also think it makes us feel like we are intruding or crossing into personal space even though we know that if someone were to compliment us just out of plain ‘do good-ing’ then we would be delighted. Anyway well done you!!

  2. A couple of months ago I told someone at uni that I liked her top. (It had cute pictures of deer on it.) She and her friends looked at me like I was a total freak.

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