In my experience, I have found that women compliment women more infrequently and with less enthusiasm, than our male counterparts. You are all familiar with that relative, co-worker, in-law or friend who dishes out the backhanded compliments, snubs, and pursed lips more frequently than a teenage girl checking her Instagram account. On many occasions I have tried to decipher the mystique behind the female unwillingness to openly compliment one another. Allow me to interpret for you some of the most common examples:
Situation #1- You just received a new bag from your husband as an anniversary present. The next afternoon you are attending a family get together when a family member comes up to you with pursed lips and a wrinkled brow. She says, “Oh Sarah, another bag!” In actuality she MEANS “Wow Sarah I LOVE that bag, I really wish that my husband bought me such awesome anniversary presents!”
Situation #2- The grumpy co-worker who never really says ANYTHING to you, but gives you the elevator eyes more frequently than the randy, lonely intern who brings meatballs wrapped in tin foil for lunch…everyday. What she actually wants to say to you is, “Wow, you look great today, I love your clothes, can we go shopping together sometime, I wanna be BFFs?!”
Situation #3-At the end-of-year preschool graduation a mother comes up to you and asks how frequently your 10 month old is crawling, and after you explain that she is crawling all over and she is standing up and surfing the furniture, she simply says, “Oh, I’m surprised she is already standing, she weighs so much, it must be all the motivation from watching her older siblings.” What she actually meant was, “Wow, how impressive! Your baby girl is really flying through those milestones, my nine month is not crawling yet and I’m really starting to worry about it. Any advice?”
Situation #4-The friend who has heard all about your struggle and hard work to lose weight. When you meet your goal just in time for the next big girl’s night out, she says nothing to you about how awesome you look in your jeans. What she should have said was, “Great job sticking with it Sarah, your hard work and commitment to being healthy was really motivating, and you look great!”
My belief is that women have a hard time complimenting other women because it makes them feel insecure about themselves. Some women feel as though a compliment to someone may in fact take something away from themselves. Women are more likely to be complimentary about an area or a topic that are confident in and comfortable with. Now I’m not saying this a universal truth, sure there are plenty of women who are happy and efficient complimenters. However, many women struggle with the art of complimenting and this needs to change.
Wouldn’t the world be a happier, more fulfilling place if we blurted out compliments every time they popped into our heads? Instead of thinking about yourself, your shortcomings, or insecurities, tell your friend how awesome she looks, tell that co-worker that you worship her sense of style, heck, go ahead and tell your mother-in-law you think it’s awesome that she has a rocking Kate Spade purse!
My goal is to spew compliments like I do swear words, and I’m willing to bet that the result will be magnificent. I will cheer up other people and I will make myself happy, which will cause me to smile, which will cause my skin to glow, which will make look luminous so…the next time you see me, don’t be afraid to say so!