I’ve recently realized something: I’m better at dealing with people when they’re down than when they’re happy.
It’s a strange thing to think about. But I’m quite good at offering sound advice, helping loved ones plan a way out of the hole they feel trapped in. That I’m great at. But when things are really great? When something wonderful has happened to them? The words sound hollow and chunky to my ears. “Congratulations” just doesn’t convey what I want to say. It’s the same when I meet someone – say another author at a book signing who I really admire. What do you say without gushing they’re the best author you’ve ever read – which probably isn’t true anyway (the more wonderful the author I read, I’m likely to pick up someone just as good or better the next time – that’s why it’s so hard to have just one favorite!).
So … how do you congratulate and compliment someone and be sincere about it? Okay, here’s what I have so far …
- Be Specific. Instead of just “congratulations” or “that looks great on you,” explain a little, make it matter and try to convey your sincerity with the “why.” It also backs up the compliment and makes it matter more. Why was this the best book you ever wrote? Why do they look nice today?
- Don’t be phony. If the person’s speech was terrible, complimenting them on it will probably sound insincere because it is. Instead, is there something you can compliment them on? Coming out? Volunteering? Other achievements?
- Make it about the person and their success, not you. It can be hard to offer congratulations to someone who’s just achieved what you haven’t been able to yet, or when you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps. BUT, celebrating your loved ones success can make their achievement that much sweeter. Later, they’ll listen to your problems. But first, celebrate the good times, and who knows? Maybe it will help you forget the bad.
- Don’t have a hidden agenda. Don’t just be kind to get something (ie: an author to promote your book, or your husband to buy you something, etc). Be kind for it’s own sake: it will make someone else feel good, and it will make you feel good, too.
- Give kindness to someday receive it. Okay, that sounds really, horribly selfish, doesn’t it? Here’s the thing: I sincerely believe we receive back what we put into the world … you know, cosmic balance and stuff. And if something great happens to you, you’d want to celebrate, right? So give and allow that same joy to whoever you’re congratulating.
- Don’t cloud the joy. If you’re a bit of a cynic, like me, it can be easy to see that a small success isn’t the end of the road, and there will always be hard times ahead. BUT, unless you remember to enjoy the good bits, how do you think you’ll manage to get through the bad? Let the other details go, and savor the pleasure of joy. It can be far too fleeting.
Okay. That’s all I have. And I’m still not sure if it’s enough. Any advice? How do you help celebrate success and achievements? How do you spread joy and kindness during the good times?
Thanks for reading. Have a great week!