Compliments Without Comparisons

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“Compliment people. Magnify their strengths not their weaknesses.”

“Anonymous compliments are the best because you don’t feel they are trying to gain anything by it.”

I don’t know about other people but I am fed up with the way some people offer a compliment. At first it is honest and legitimate. It makes a person feel good. They don’t stop, but instead insult another through their comparisons. “Sofie helped Rachel paint the other day. Sophie is so kind to others and definitely not like her sister Sara.” Or you might hear, “You’d never catch Sara doing that.” I find it frustrating, and more negative than positive. I recall someone displaying a chart on their refrigerator, which indicated who was top dog, and who was displayed in the dog house. How pathetic it was. It required constant assessment of a person, without their consent. This was a family, but our comparisons are never considered unethical. One should not wonder why this family became ostracized when thy were grown.

What begins as a nice gesture, develops into a hurtful unnecessary situation. Nobody wanted to hear disparaging comments about Sara. It really is rude and forces the audience to be the recipient of rudeness. Maybe Sara doesn’t exhibit empathy. Perhaps  she is burdened at the moment, and dealing with her own issues. It isn’t for us to judge.  The atmosphere is tainted with a foul smell. The kind praise of one girl, is overshadowed by the insulting additional and negative remarks towards the sister.people do it frequently, and are almost unaware of their tactics. I believe it could be the reason we have so much competition and sibling rivalry. Parents and grandparents are guilty of such behavior, even though they never meant to hurt anyone. They love their grandchildren but must assess themselves. To express the kindness of one individual at the expense of destroying another, may be construed as perverse. Reflect on the reasons you say anything.  Think before you speak is a good motto.

Requiring  a winner in every situation, sets the stage for comparisons of all kinds. Somehow we think this private analysis sealed a secret and friendship, with the individual we complimented. The intrigue of it is detrimental for all. Perhaps our complimented friend is enjoying the negative  attributes of another.  It makes them look better and in a sense they have defeated their competition. Is our desire for the top of the hilltop so great that we don’t have any empathy for those we step on to get to the top?

i would have faith there is some truth to that. But what purpose does anyone achieve, including parents and grandparents, when comparing kids. Parents will and do alienate kids as the kids mature. Living in the shadows of a sibling, sheds them no light. Most likely parents are attempting to inspire their introverted children to use their talents. It does not work and serves to alienate the siblings. Many children are jealous of their siblings. As adults we must pay attention to the hurts we inflict. Kids find their niche. It takes time and patience for them to do this. Most importantly it takes parental courage to stand by them, believe in them and trust their decisions. There is never one winner in one situation but many winners in various circumstances.

I know  there are those people, be it friends or kids or family who always jump in to help.  We should compliment their support. We should also refuse to denigrate or even think about everyone else who did not help. It doesn’t add up to jump from apples and pears to green beans. It is as if we are attempting to make the person we are praising feel more important to us, through our degradation of another. The truth is, at some other  point in time, this negligent person, perhaps will do us a favor. We don’t want to switch our allies, like we switch our clothes.

Parents may have trouble, perceiving each child as a whole individual. Finding one attribute or talent to focus on is dampening all of the child’s other important attributes. Our stint of greatness, at any given time is short lived. It is a most favorable advantage, to graciously accept our positive talents, and use them together for a good and honest life.

Our child may be athletic and intelligent.  They may be inquisitive and athletic, or outgoing and thoughtful. It isn’t important to dwell on measurement and comparisons, which basically leads to competition. It certainly never feels awesome to be the loser. Even the winners may feel depleted, because now they have lost a friend, and perhaps earned an opponent. Nobody wants this adversary to be their sibling, friend or family member.

A compliment can be simple, sincere and positive in every way. It can spread total goodness without any negative effect on others. Compliments stir warm feelings when they are sincere, and without the strings of devaluing others. It is one thing to be placed on a pedestal, and quite another to be placed in the dirt groveling.

Maybe we don’t think a person ever finds out about our critical retorts about them. That would be foolish thinking. We all talk and any controversy makes for a more interesting conversation. There are also those people who want to drag down the originator. What better way to do this than to squeal about the critical remark to the person who was the receiver of it. Praise might and should be genuine.

I  cringe when I hear parents comment on the toughness of their sons, and how much better they play than a child who is older than their child. Isn’t it just as simple to say they are a great ball player and refrain from a comparison? It works if we try. When we are successful we have saved a lot of emotional pain . Same goes for intelligence and so many other things we manage to throw out and contrast. Just compliment without reserve. There is no need to go further. Never destroy an honest kind act, nor an honest kind person, with words of evaluation.

“There are generations yet unborn whose lives will be shifted and shaped by the moves you make and the actions you take today and tomorrow and the next day.”     Andy Andrews

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”    Leo Buscaglia

“The best compliment to a child or a friend is the feeling you give him that he has been set free to make his own inquiries, to come to conclusions that are right for him, whether or not they coincide with your own.”    Alistair Cooke

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