Often when we meet new people we pay them a compliment, "I like your glasses, they're so cool", or "that's such a nice watch or necklace".
A compliment is in its basic form is: a remark that expresses approval, admiration or respect.
There is no written or unwritten rule that this compliment needs to be about your physical appearance, so why then, are almost 100% of the compliments we give about just that?
According to Norihiro Sadata from the Nagoya Institute of Technology in Japan, "To the brain, receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as being rewarded money. We've been able to find scientific proof that a person performs better when they receive a social reward after completing an exercise. There seems to be scientific validity behind the message 'praise to encourage improvement'. Complimenting someone could become an easy and effective strategy to use in the classroom and during rehabilitation."
We can probably agree, compliments make people feel good, at least as good as getting a cash reward.. Compliments can also be be used as a means to encourage better future behaviour.
However, I am concerned with the idea of only complimenting people on their physical appearance or physical attributes, I'm worried its sending the wrong message. I would like people to feel valued, seen and appreciated for who they are, not because they dress well, have nice sunglasses or are perceived as beautiful/handsome. Appearance based compliments only further the obsession with how we look, comparison-culture also fits in here: comparing your self-worth against another standard of "as pretty as", "as good looking and together as"...
How we look, our physical appearance is not the most important or interesting characteristic we have to offer the world.
My suggestion going forward, is that we try to have a few compliments in our repertoire that have nothing to do with commenting upon a person's physical appearance. instead lets try some of the following.
1). "Our conversations always make me feel better."
2). "I like being around you."
3). "Spending time around you makes me feel really comfortable."
4). "The world needs more people like you."
5). " I am really so happy to spend time with you."
6). "You are such a great listener."
What do you think ?