5 Of The Best Compliments You Can Get

The most basic component of a compliment seems to be something like: “the affirmation of a positive aspect of one’s identity via outside party.” In other words – validation. So powerful can compliments be that many of us know people who spend much of their time unconsciously trying to manipulate people into giving them compliments. But of course – these compliments are worthless, or at least low-yield. There are, however, very satisfying compliments one can receive, and here are five of the best.

1. When you hear that the person you have a crush on also has a crush on you

Example: Self-explanatory.

Why? Probably because this is that dollar-sign-in-the-eyes ka-ching moment marking your realization that – barring some unforeseen circumstance – the next month (at least) is going to be full of sex and exciting emotion.

Alternatives: The moment someone agrees to “go upstairs” with you, the moment your lover stops kissing you and starts moving down toward your crotch…

2. When your professor lavishes with praise your paper you worked forever on

Example: At the start of the semester you knew the final paper would be a thirty-page giant in which you had to defend your own thesis via the use of at least 20 sources, your own ‘field data’ (which showed adequate amounts of internal and external consistency), an interview with an expert on the subject, and a class presentation. Despite how horrified you are initially, by the time the end of the semester rolls around you’ve written a paper you’re actually proud of. In fact, you want your professor to read it because you want to show her how good it is. After two weeks of waiting for the grade, the paper comes back with high marks and a page-long handwritten note about how well-written and genius the thing is. The note closes: “Good luck next semester. If you ever need anything from me – references, letters of recommendation or otherwise – please do not hesitate to ask. Would be happy to.”

Why? Because you earned it. It’s not like you wrote the paper at the last minute and serendipitously achieved some high score. No – that would only convince you of your professor’s incompetence. It’s the fact that you worked so hard and became so convinced of the accuracy of your paper that your sense of hope for validation increased to epic proportions, which was matched by the proportions of your professor’s enthusiasm.

Alternatives: When an artist you respect is genuinely excited about your art.

3. When you get the job

Example: Mostly self-explanatory, but here’s one anyway: you’re in the running for a position with more prestige than you’ve ever had that pays more than you’ve ever been paid. The competition is intense. After four interviews and a month of waiting, your new boss calls you and explains that you’ve been chosen. It’s important to note here that the compliment not only includes the knowledge that you’ve been judged as superior to a relatively large number of applicants, but that many conversations between already-‘superior’ individuals (your new bosses) were had about you, and that they ultimately resulted in the group affirmation that you are, indeed, the best.

Why? See previous line. Also – the knowledge that a group of people who you respect genuinely believes you’re capable of meeting the demands of such an interesting position. Topping it off is that your literal value just jumped to the highest it’s ever been – you are now worth the highest salary of your career. This gets to your head, and it’s quite the rush.

Alternatives: When you get the scholarship, fellowship or grant, when you’re asked to head up a new department/ project/ research study at work/ school, when you threaten to quit and your employer responds by offering you a significant raise.

4. When someone tells you he enjoyed your article (or any other artistic/ intellectual endeavor), that he showed it to a large group of friends – who you don’t know – and they all thought it was awesome/ hilarious

Example: [Text message] “I’m at Summer’s, we’re reading your most recent piece on McSweeney’s aloud and we’re all laughing. Yr shit is so good.”

Why? A necessary component to this compliment is the fact that you don’t know who’s enjoying your artistic output, but you know they think it’s great. There’s something both intensely curious and validating about this situation – who are these unknown people so enraptured with a product of your artistic output? Perhaps the key here is the knowledge that you’ve produced something valuable enough to move people who aren’t your friends to validate you.

Alternatives: Your CEO shows investors your work and reports back that they were very impressed, a major venue/ figure emails you and tells you they like your stuff and asks if you’re available for an interview or some sort of collaboration.

5. When your professor/ superior uses you or your work as an example of what’s ideal

Example: [In a “team meeting” – you are Caitlin] “For example, Caitlin’s work on the beta program last week,” the Marketing Director – your boss – is saying. “She turned it in ahead of time, the work was organized with key points on the first page, and she presented it flawlessly in two different potential investor meetings…” No one’s looking at you, but you know they all want to be you right now.

Why? Good question. It’s probably as simple as the fact that the alpha human – whose opinion is thought of as the most valuable – has identified you as the superior individual among all the alpha’s underlings. Especially pertinent is that it happens in a group setting, which makes the alpha’s belief literally more… real.

Alternatives: When you’re the first person picked for the team. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – reebs*

I am the co-publisher of Thought Catalog. Follow me on Twitter. I also use a pen name called Holden Desalles.

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