A kindness of compliments

October 4, 2017 Comments Off on A kindness of compliments

There’s a documentary that did the rounds on social media recently: a group of students, I think, embarked on a portrait photography project where they photographed people ‘before’, and then ‘at the precise second at which they were told they were beautiful. It was one of the most moving things I’ve ever seen. Their faces lit up, they smiled, they blushed. They were so beautifully vulnerable in that moment that their humanity shone through the mask they’d been wearing a moment before.

And it doesn’t really matter what the compliment is. I have smoothed my way through the bank, the police station, the supermarket, just because I paid someone a simple compliment about a tiny thing: “That colour really suits you. What a beautiful dress. What a fabulous tie. I love your nail polish…”

Because what that compliment does, for a brief moment, is to make the person feel that there is more to them than the labels society affixes to them. They’re not just a teller or a cashier or a constable – they’re a human being. A human seen.

And I don’t know about you, but in the world we live in today, I think we could all do with a little more of that.

 

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