“Oh, I love your hat, Amy!” rolls out of my mouth as a friend’s daughter greets me at the door. With a tremble of disappointment in his voice, “You don’t like mine” whispers her little brother. He approaches from around the corner grabbing his blue bucket hat atop his head. “Oh, I love your hat too, buddy. I saw your sister’s first.” He thinks my words to his sister means something about him or his hat. The slight already occurred.
Thus begins the assigning of meaning to words, at an early age. A belief that words must mean something about us and our value. This leads to communication breakdowns that change the nature of relationships at home, work, and out in the world.
How often do you let words toward another mean something about you? Maybe a colleague receives a compliment, and you wonder if you are good enough? Or you hear a friend praise another and think you do not measure up?
Small children who assume that comments mean something about them grow into big children with the same insecurities. The little child in us sometimes takes offense.
This leads to misunderstandings and conflicts throughout school, teams, businesses, organizations, families, neighborhoods, and in communities. As a mediator, I help people get clear about the results they wish to create. Bridging the gap often requires understanding the meaning of words.
What if the comments about another have absolutely nothing to do with you? What if it simply means someone notices and appreciates someone in this moment, and no more and no less?
A compliment is about the receiving person. If you feel lack of appreciation, consider looking yourself in the mirror and saying, “I see and appreciate you.”
Remember, you may smile and support the compliment or recognition of someone else. You may appreciate two people at the same time. Sometimes, you may not not say it. The people around you may do the same.
What if you choose to express it more often?