Thanks to Bambi’s Thumper, we are quite familiar with the saying “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” And even though the nerdy, grammatically correct side of me cringes at the double negative, which negates the meaning of the quote, we all know what it’s getting at – don’t talk bad about people. And it is a great rule to follow to make sure you aren’t gossiping or cutting down people. However, it’s even better to go a step further and not only abstain from speaking negatively about people, but begin speaking about the good you see in them!
Good things are rarely spoken. Too many times we think great things about people but never actually express them to that person. This could be for many reasons. Maybe you are shy or don’t think the person would care what you have to say. Maybe it’s someone you barely know or someone you find horribly charming and the thought of letting them know how wonderful you think they are gets your anxiety all worked up. No matter your reasoning, find the courage to share with people the goodness you see in them. You could have the exact words someone needs to hear in that exact moment.
Express gratitude and appreciation. Express the gratitude you feel toward someone who has positively made a difference in your life. Be specific. If they have given you their time, thank them for that sacrifice. If they helped you move, let them know how grateful you are for their big muscles and hard work. If they were a great listener in a time of need, let them know you appreciate their willingness to listen. If they are just an awesome person you are so happy to have in your life, tell them!
Express compliments. Did your co-worker give a well organized, engaging speech? Let them know you enjoyed it and thought they did a great job. You never know – they could have been stressing about their presentation for weeks and hearing your praise may build their confidence for the next one. Do you know someone who always has a smile on their face and finds the good in life? Even if you don’t always understand their supreme optimism, let them know it is recognized, unique, and beautiful. Like her shirt? Let her know. Think he’s a cool person? I’m sure he’d love to hear it. But most importantly, be classy with your compliments. You want to make sure you don’t come off as creepy or border the line of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Express Care and Concern. When someone is going through a tough time or experiencing a challenging or difficult season or circumstance in life, say something. Though it may be uncomfortable to confront someone in the midst of their struggle, there is strength that comes from knowing you have the support of others, even if the support is simply encouraging and caring words. Not sure of what to say? Offer a hug, a hand, or just the truth that they are on your mind.
Get creative. Never underestimate the benefits of awkwardly going up to a stranger and giving them a compliment, but also feel free to get creative! Write a note or a letter to share your deep care and concern for someone. Purchase a small gift to express gratitude and gratefulness. Pull someone aside, give them your full attention – make eye-contact and everything – and intentionally share a compliment with them.
So stop the negative talk and the gossip and start spreading kindness, encouragement, and admiration for those people in your life who are doing great things, big and small.