As I scan the daily Facebook posts and WordPress blog articles, I see the usual thousand or so posts about kindness and being nice to others. Of course we should always be kind to others and go out of our way to encourage them.
My question is how do people feel about whether or not a compliment or encouragement is sincere or merely said out of good intention. When someone approaches you and tells you how nice you look or that your new hairstyle looks great – does it matter whether they truly believe what they say or are just trying to be nice? Does the compliment still have the same effect?
Personally, it was always a pet peeve of mine when I would enter a store and the cashier/greeter would say “Hello, how are you today?” and I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that they did not care whatsoever how I was that day. I understand the purpose of these greetings is to make you feel welcome. The problem is that to me, it is insincere so why say it at all? Why not just smile? Why the need to add a useless query? Why feign interest in someone’s life when you have no interest at all?
I choose to participate in this insincere exchange of pleasantries – whenever someone says hello to me and asks how I am, I return with the expected, “Fine, thanks and how are you?” Then I move on when it is clear it was meant only as a greeting as they do not respond to my query. What I don’t do is give insincere compliments. I like to make people feel good so I will make positive comments to them but it isn’t always a compliment. I have found that often, you don’t have to compliment someone to make them feel good – you merely have to engage them in an actual conversation instead of just the passing ‘how are you?’
People will talk about anything, they like to be heard and to feel as if someone wants to listen. Even a few minutes of a conversation about anything often lifts someones spirits. I talk to anyone who wants to chat.
For me, I don’t like compliments that I feel someone gives insincerely. Usually such compliments are obvious. Something about it just irks me even when it is given with good intentions. I would prefer someone comment on something to start even a brief chat as that is a compliment in itself – it says “I care what you have to say”
What about everyone else? Do you give insincere compliments due to good intentions? How do you feel about insincere compliments?