“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the power to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia
“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” – Mark Twain
My friend, Shannon, saw the Indigo Girls play recently and was telling me a story about the badass fiddle player they are currently touring with, Lyrus Hung. The show-ending song was “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and Shannon said that Lyrus was on fire during her solo, that she played with a ferocious passion that was infectious.
(photo credit: nikkidahl.com)
As the show ended, Shannon thought, “Oh, my God, she was amazing! I have to go tell her how happy her fiddle playing made me.” She went up to the stage, waved Lyrus over, and told her that watching her play gave Shannon such unexpected joy that night that she just HAD to tell her so she would know how much it affected her. “How did she respond?” I asked. “I think she appreciated the compliment, but really I just told her because I needed to. I mean, I didn’t want her to leave without knowing that her artistry touched me.” Shan said.
That story rolled us into a discussion about how important it is to tell someone when something they’ve created, done or said has touched us. It takes just a few seconds to say, “Your work is fantastic. What you said touched me. What you did changed how I look at the world. You inspire me to stretch myself. I appreciate you.” The affirming power of a compliment can’t be underestimated. And really, we never know when our words might be exactly the thing that person needed to hear in that moment. Maybe they were wavering in their self-confidence and we just threw them enough of a reason to keep forging ahead in some way.
My M. O. has been to appreciate someone’s work or creativity from afar – keep my adulation to myself, especially where strangers are concerned, especially if those people already have some level of fame. Why do I hold back? Because I hate the thought of being perceived as some gushy, starry-eyed fan girl. And also because I assume that people who are “famous” already are told by lots of people how great they are or how much people like their work, so they don’t need to hear it from me. But what if most people are like me, holding back because they are convinced everyone else is oozing compliments and what does one more drop in that bucket really matter anyway?
That conversation with Shannon shifted me. It made me reevaluate my silly habit of admiring from afar. It made me decide to start taking the time to tell people when something they have said, or done, or created touches me. It costs me nothing to do it. It might mean more than I know to the person on the receiving end of it. And maybe it will shift that person’s energy just enough to pay it forward, kind of like this.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” (Aesop) Maybe taking the time to say a kind word and connect just briefly in that way will be like the butterfly effect of good energy. Here’s hoping.