Monday, September 14, 2009

Give Compliment, Get a Tip . . .

When I was a younger man (and by that I mean as recently as a week ago) my mother would often say that I had two major flaws. I could neither give nor receive an apology and I could neither give nor receive a compliment.

She, as per always, right (that's not just pandering - I didn't realize or accept it for many years of my life but the woman is a genius with a moral compass more true than the North Star itself)!

The apology thing is coming along quite nicely (being a slouch of a husband will do that for you (smile)).

The compliments - work in progress!

If you search the archives of this hear blog you'll find a few places where I make mention of my commitment to getting better at giving and receiving compliments. Losing hundreds of pounds in a relatively short period of time leaves you almost forced to learn how to accept one and, frankly, receiving all those compliments makes you very likely to learn how to pay them back out as well (quid pro quo, better to give than to receive, etc.).

I have gotten quite used to the exchange of verbal kindness with those that I'm acquainted with. It's not that hard. STRANGERS though . . . that's still got me spinning. There are a few challenges to this. 1) Men hardly ever say kind things to each other for no apparent reason. 2) Any time I think about saying something kind to a woman I'm afraid she'll take it as flirty/inappropriate/awkward/terrifying and anytime a woman says something kind to me I just have to assume she wants to get in my pants (I only WISH I were joking)!

Then - along came Esquire. Specifically an article called "The Perfect Compliment" by one of my favorite writers in the world - Tom Chiarella. You can read the whole thing in the print issue (I'll put the link here when it is available) but here is the proverbial meat and potatoes of it all . . .

"I learned that a compliment is a partnership, because the pleasure of giving it lies in its effect upon the person receiving it."

The article has me feeling totally empowered so - this morning - at the QuikTrip (while pouring my morning iced tea) I caught the faint whiff of the man next to me at the sugar/creamer/straw/lids/stirrer "bar" and decided he smelt more delicious than the taquitos spinning feet from us. So what did I do?

I told him so. Didn't hesitate. I looked him in the eye and I said "That is a great scent you are giving off. It smells sorta' like an October evening in Upstate, New York - one of my favorite things in the world. Thanks for the happy memory on a Monday morning." (insert broad, genuine smile followed by moment of brief pause here).

"Thanks," he said. "It is Kiehl's Musk Blend. My wife bought it for me on a recent business trip to New York City. I wonder if she bought it because it reminded her of the same thing. She went to undergrad school at Cornell. Are you familiar with Ithaca?"

"Am I ever," I smiled. "Have a great day. Go Big Red!"

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