“You have the prettiest eyelashes.”
My patient’s compliment catches me by surprise. I’ve seated Hannah, a cute young 30-something, in my dental chair for her semi-annual checkup. I ask about her new baby. She asks about my daughter’s recent marriage. Then we transition over to dental-related subjects like brushing and flossing. I’m almost finished with her teeth when she compliments me.
“Thank you,” I respond in surprise. I finish her appointment and send her off with a reminder to floss every day.
Her appointment only lasts 45 minutes, but her compliment stays with me all day.
I don’t consider myself a vain person, nor do I need constant affirmation to feel good about myself. I’m not suffering from a mid-life crisis, and I don’t linger long in the mirror before I leave my house in the morning.
But my patient’s unexpected compliment has a surprising effect—it warms my heart.
Like finding a ten-dollar bill in the pocket of my jeans or pulling into a parking space with money still in the meter, I feel as though I’ve been given a gift. All morning long, her words make me feel special. And happy.
Such is the effect of kind words. Proverbs 25:11 describes it this way: “A word at the right time is like apples of gold in a network of silver.”
As I think more about my patient’s verbal gift, I realize three things:
1. Compliments don’t cost anything.
2. They don’t require much effort.
3. They have powerful and far-reaching effects.
Hannah’s kind words make me want to help my coworkers, go the extra mile for my patients, and feel better about my appearance.
And it only took five words.
In response, I want to bless someone like Hannah has blessed me.
I thank the receptionist for helping a patient with a difficult insurance question. “You did a great job sorting that out.”
I notice my next patient’s sparkling earrings. “Those are the prettiest color. They match your eyes perfectly.”
I encourage a middle-aged woman caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s. “You’re a good daughter. She’s very blessed to have you.”
The ripple effect from my patient’s compliment reaches far beyond its intended target and makes four people smile instead of one.
Today you may not be able to donate a million dollars to charity or find a cure for cancer, but you do have the ability to make someone smile. And when that person smiles, she’s more likely to share a smile with someone else, who can share it with someone else, who can share it with someone else. Before long, we’re all smiling.
All it takes is a little bit of effort and a few carefully selected words.
Are you in?
If you are, purpose to speak at least one sincere compliment to someone you encounter today. Note how they respond and how it makes you feel. Then leave a comment below to share your experience.
Thanks for taking the challenge. Hungry for God readers are some of the sweetest folks in the blogosphere. I’m privileged to share the faith walk with you.