I used to walk down the street and have immense fears of making eye contact with strangers. I was always worried that they would judge me or think I was weird, so I rarely ever tried smiling. I averted any and all contact. I couldn’t fathom putting myself into a vulnerable situation.
One day, I was sitting with my friend and we were trying to figure out the common underlying fears we had around strangers. We came to the conclusion that when we speak with strangers, we placed our focus too heavily on ourselves.
i.e. “What do they think of me? They’re staring at my huge zit on my chin. They think I’m stupid. They can tell that I’m uncomfortable in my skin.”
I started to switch my perspective around strangers. Instead of planning out what I would say and how they would react, I just started to say to myself that I would smile and silently compliment all people I encounter. The more I did this in my mind, the more I wanted to verbalize them to the other person.
What happens when you don’t get the most pleasant response?
It’s pretty uncomfortable. Breathe into that discomfort and let it be there. That’s one of the biggest fears when we start to compliment strangers because let’s be honest, people do it so infrequently that in a sense, the person on the receiving end tends to put up a guard to shield them from the discomfort.
How to get past the fear & compliment strangers anyway?
We need not expect anything in return. We need not give compliments solely to get compliments. Our egos have this idea that we only give to get. If strangers don’t react kindly in return, that shouldn’t change our original intention, which was to spread the love. Instead, our job is to focus on how we can be more helpful. How we can spread more light into the world? We must be unapologetic in our intent to do just that. When you have this mindset around complimenting others, you will build confidence speaking to strangers. When you have the knowledge that your compliment alone is generating more positivity into the world, you will feel a sense of purpose.
What do I get out of it?
Typically, you are given an immense gift. It may not be verbal, but it will be seen and felt. The moment you compliment another person, watch how their eyes light up and soften, sparkling with happiness. It warms my heart to know that my one compliment has the power to turn someone’s entire bad day, week, and life around. Whenever you feel uncomfortable complimenting a stranger, remember that your courage to compliment others can change lives and keep the good vibes rolling.