‘You look nice’ – I’ll just cut to the chase here and say, I don’t like this compliment. You look nice feels like a limp piece of bread served as dinner. Underwhelming. I’d rather not, thanks. The other compliment I loathe? ‘You are amazing.’ These sorts of generic compliments are not much more than social cues sweeped hastily into a positive affirmation. They aren’t thoughtful or kind observations – which is, by the way what I think a true compliment should be. In fact, I think a very precise, unexpected compliment is the world’s simplest, most beautiful gesture.
Last year, my good friend Anouska complimented my ears. I’ve never in my life even considered the aesthetics of my ears. I still don’t believe them to be anything other than ordinary ears, but I adored the specificity of the compliment. And ever since, I made it my private mission to appreciate the unexpected beauty in my friends but more importantly, voice it to them -be it from the way they organize their handbag to how their hair always looks better than mine, even on a hungover Sunday. I’m naturally a very observant woman, so it was easy to find these nuances in the people I love. Suddenly, I was making entire mental lists of very specific things I adore about each and every one of them. I think that’s a beautiful thing. We need more of that as women. Genuine, original compliments that stretch far beyond the social cue of ‘nice’ and really make the other person feel beautiful, accomplished, valued. We all privately cherish a handful of compliments we’ve received over the years – we will remember them forever. I’m certain you can think of at least three right now that you’ll likely never forget. Why can’t more compliments be like that? I’m sorry but ‘nice’ or ‘amazing’ just won’t cut it anymore. And next time my boyfriend delivers me ‘nice’ after I’ve spent an hour getting ready for his painfully boring office party? I think I might just turn around and walk out the door. Because we are so much more than nice, aren’t we? Every single one of us.