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On the Power of a Compliment

No matter what business we're in, there's a point where we're all in "sales."

And that doesn't necessarily mean that we're trying to actively coerce people into buying something they don't want, but rather we're trying to get our point across and let our opinion be known in a way that people will act upon our words.

If we're looking for a job, we're selling our personalities and skills.  If we have a job, we're offering opinions on the best ways to do things based on our experience.  And even in our lives, we're offering opinions about things we've enjoyed or found useful to our friends and family.  It's just the way we live in a world where we don't have some sort of hive-mind allowing us to just act - we have to influence others or we don't really exist in the world.

And for people whose self-confidence is low about giving opinions, this can be a real challenge in being an effective person in the workplace, home, or just in their lives in general.

So I'd like to share what someone did for me recently in this regard.  For whatever reason, I am one of those people who frequently has trouble giving an opinion on some things.  It's a self-esteem issue and it's something I'm working on in my life, but the problem is valuing my own opinion enough to give it to other people.

I was posting a Randy Gage blog entry on Facebook.  As these things do, the comments in the discussion turned to something else. The person with whom I was discussing things told me that I was very passionate about what I was discussing and that he thought I had an ability to bring people along with me because of that passion.  And I thanked him, agreeing that passion had that power.

Then, my fifth grade schoolteacher, Sue Kennedy, commented the following:
You know, Jamie, you were a very effective communicator as a boy. It was not so much passion as budding charisma back then :)
I can't tell you just how much that compliment has meant to me recently.

When I start to doubt myself in giving opinions about things, all I have to do is think about the opinion of a person I admire greatly about who I was when I was ten years old, and realize that I'm still that person.  It's changed the way I think about myself and let me realize other points in my life where I've shown the traits she saw in me back then.  All that has built up to give me more confidence and self esteem, and made me a more effective person.

So never doubt the power of a compliment.  It's a great way to spread positive energy to the people you care about.

And let me send my own compliment to Sue: it's amazing the power that an effective and beloved teacher can have on a boy/man, even 30 years after I sat in her classroom.  Thank you!


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