Did you receive a compliment today?

sofatutor magazine parents

To pay a compliment every day - that's what psychology student Rosa Stark has set out to do. On her blog, A Compliment A Day, she writes about the reactions and told us why compliments are so important.

Did you make it your business to pay a compliment every day for a year? How did you come up with it and why are you doing this project?

Rosa Stark: “The initial spark came from different situations. I was street music in San Francisco. I sat alone on the street with my violin and saw how many people say thank you because I touch it or play it well. After a few weeks I was much more relaxed and confident, not just playing the violin. In this way, at least in my experience, potentials develop naturally.

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Shortly afterwards I was in Paris and discovered a woman at the Gare Du Nord train station.
I was fascinated: she was beautiful. Not true to the ideal of beauty, but entirely herself. It was her dead straight posture and her calm that inspired me. She shone! I walked past her and thought, 'Incredible. How beautiful she is. 'Then five steps later:' Wait a minute! Why don't I tell her that? ‛I realized: I was afraid of the reaction. I didn't want to accept that. I went up to her and said, 'I think you look like a work of art.' At first she looked at me in disbelief, then her face came up and she gave me a spontaneous hug. "


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Compliments from Rosa Stark © Rosa Stark

How do you come up with your “recipient of compliments”? Does that happen spontaneously?

Rosa Stark: "That is different. If they are strangers, it happens spontaneously on the train, at a concert or at the university. In the meantime, one thing has crystallized: What appeals to me is authenticity. A free smile, honest tears or a radical expression of the person himself. Often these are also situations: a unique pronunciation, the way of holding a pen or a lively story. Then when someone is with them and not trying to correspond to anything or anyone. A compliment is nothing more than a thank you: for the wonderful moment and for being able to experience and enjoy it. "

How do people react to your compliments?

Rosa Stark: “The reactions to it are different every time, and patterns emerge depending on the country and gender. In America, for example, people are more proficient in dealing with compliments and simply accepting them. In Germany, especially in Berlin, I often get irritated at first. When it then arrives: I don't want anything, I just want to say something nice, then in 99 percent of the cases the face opens and a beautiful moment arises. My enduring this irritation is always worthwhile. "

Why are compliments important?

Rosa Stark: “Because they express appreciation. Regardless of whether you are a stranger, best friend or work colleague. When I tell the other what I like about them, then I open up. As a person, I stand in front of someone whose humanity I recognize and even find beautiful! It might sound pathetic, but that's what it feels like. Instead of seeing him in his role or what I expect from him, what bothers me about him or where he has failed, I consciously take what makes him beautiful to me.

At the same time there is the recipient side. I believe that accepting compliments increases self-worth and confidence. If there is someone who sees something beautiful in me, then the world can't be completely gray, can it? "

What's the best way to formulate a compliment?

Rosa Stark: “By not worrying too much about how to phrase it! In plain language: Head off, heart on. Be honest, stick to yourself. Express what is really there. Gladly in detail, like to praise generously, instead of being stingy with words. And don't worry too much about how the other person might understand it now, because then it quickly appears to be put on and that makes the other person doubt it. I think we can sense whether someone means a compliment honestly or whether the compliment is a means to an end. And then we sort whether we accept it. "

Many people say they can't handle compliments. Do you have any idea why that is?

Rosa Stark: “Great question, thank you very much for that! Because that's something that worries me a lot. I think it has something to do with self-image. If I am ugly, untalented or at best average in my own imagination, then my worldview also lives from it. Maybe I needed this self-image in my childhood to make sense of my surroundings. Or somewhere else along the way, things happened that made me feel small and insignificant.

Not being able to deal with compliments actually means having at some point effectively built up protection against being injured. "

And what do you advise people who cannot handle compliments?

Rosa Stark: “To make oneself aware of the reason for this in order to develop an understanding for oneself. If I observe myself and realize that I cannot accept that, then this is often the old pattern of negative self-image. I think it would be better to say 'I'm sorry for myself'.

Yes, you can feel sorry for yourself. And then take the risk and learn to accept compliments. The same applies to compliments: just turn your head off. You get a compliment for your beautiful smile and then you shouldn't start asking yourself: 'What is that meant now? Ironic? Or does the ulterior motive? Does he want something from me? He probably only means the white teeth. ‛

And here the experiment begins: Instead of uttering even one of these sentences, or justifying the beautiful smile in another way, you simply say 'Thank you'. And if you are happy: 'That makes me happy.' You should also try to give in to the impulse to give something back very quickly. We often believe that togetherness is a deal. For example, the woman in Paris quickly looked down at me and said, 'Thank you! I, uh, like your pants! ‛. I thought that was a shame. I felt: This is coming now because she thinks she owes it to me. "

How do you deal with compliments yourself?

Rosa Stark: “It was difficult for me for a long time. It was generally very difficult for me to accept compliments. Then there was a phase in which I had to make a conscious decision to say: 'Thank you, sweet of you!' I really practiced that. In San Francisco I was bombarded with compliments so I couldn't help but understand at some point: I can do something. I am something. I have something to give.
And that's exactly why I want to help people around me give generous compliments. Because I know: that can make a big difference. "

Cover picture: © Gonzalo Aragon / shutterstock.com

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