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Michelle Turnberg, Published February 10 2012

Turnberg: Compliments can lift us out of misery

Mark Twain was credited with saying: “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

I would have to agree.

Remember how you felt the last time you received a compliment?

It’s such a great feeling, and when it comes at an unexpected and much needed time it can mean the world to a person. Which makes me wonder, why don’t we offer them more often?

I was reminded of how powerful a compliment can be last spring.

I was at a restaurant with my two kids after what had turned into a stress-filled, miserable day. I was trying to maintain my patience and composure when a woman walked up to me and told me some very kind words that left me in tears.

Her name was Glenda, and the irony of her name was not lost on me. Her kind words were like a life saver as I struggled to keep my head above water. With a simple effort, she turned my day completely around.

A compliment doesn’t cost a thing, but its power is priceless.

Knowing how much it means to receive a compliment, a friend and I made a pact to give more of them. We agreed to try to give out at least one each day and they had to be sincere.

I especially remember one young lady. She was a server at Green Mill on the busy spaghetti supper night before the Grandma’s Marathon. She was totally swamped, and I remembered how it felt to be a server and how poorly people can treat you. I made sure I told her how pretty her smile was and that she was doing a great job. Both were true.

She almost started crying, hugged me and told me how much she needed to hear that and how it made her day. All I did was tell her what I was thinking.

Words have power, and giving a compliment is such an easy thing to do.

Author Robert Brault, shared this observation: “There is no effect more disproportionate to its cause than the happiness bestowed by a small compliment.”


Michelle Turnberg writes a weekly column for SheSays. She can be reached at michelleturnberg@gmail.com.