Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spices & Diamonds

Compliments. Kind words. Encouragement. Whatever you decide to call them, these horses are quite monochromatic. All in all, these things are positive, helpful, and delivered with good intentions. However, at the same time, they can be somewhat overused.

Compliments are like spices. If overused, one may be over accustomed to their flavor and thus require more and more in the future. Or, even worse, the liberal use of spices/compliments can leave a bad taste in one’s mouth. But, one should always be cognizant of the fact that not seasoning whatsoever can make things become mundane or perceived as overlooked afterthoughts. For example, if one is constantly patting another on the back for the most mundane comings and goings, that person will not only expect them all the time, they will never truly appreciate an accolade for an exceptional performance. Also, unless you are actually talking to a child, abundant adulations can infantilize or patronize the beneficiary.

So, to avoid these negative perceptions of good-willed words, one must always be mindful of the timing, abundance, and sincerity of his or her compliments they choose to pay. Compliments should be like diamonds. Why are diamonds so valuable? Well, the primary reason is their rarity followed by their inherent beauty. (I think being genuine goes without saying.) Therefore, you pay a lot for any bling you sport. This analogy serves as easy a ham and cheese Hot Pocket! In terms of ‘payment’ the recipient of any gem or compliment must really earn it. More often than not, this translates into hard work or something about that person that makes them as rare as that diamond that old broad threw off the side of the boat at the end of Titanic.

Now, I’m all for positive reinforcement and enjoy nothing more than a kind word pointed in my direction. But, nothing is more annoying than a compliment that is empty. By empty, I mean lip-service rubbish that is the equivalent of serving a Medium-rare Porterhouse steak on the lid of a trashcan. So, the next time someone does a great job, first make sure it really was great! In terms of work, someone just performing their defined job responsibilities is just them doing the job (which they should be doing anyway). This applies almost universally, why compliment someone for something they should already do?! Exactly!

Anyway… Once someone truly has performed exceptionally, let them know via a card, email, smile, high five, simple ‘Thank you,’ a Two Thumbs Up, or sports-butt-slap. Some say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I’m here to say that, “even if it IS nice, you don’t necessarily have to say it.”

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