I was standing in a mini-mart the other day waiting to pay for gas, and the beautiful young woman in front of me was complaining to the cashier that even though she’s 30, she always gets carded. I said, “It’s because you’ve got a face like a peach.” It just flew out of my mouth, and then I was glad, because she got it. The girl’s eyes got real big and her mouth opened in this gigantic smile as she thanked me. For a second I thought she was going to hug me.
Recently I was walking out of an office and a woman was walking in, and we held the doors for each other and then laughed, and as I went through, I told her the truth: “You look wonderful.” She did. She had gone to a lot of trouble on her hair and makeup, and her outfit and jewelry were to die for. “Thank you,” she said, beaming. I think when you hand someone a spontaneous, honest compliment like that, it’s so unexpected that you get extra mileage out of it. Maybe that’s because the recipient knows in her gut that a total stranger wouldn’t say that unless it was sincere.
I read about this a long time ago, in a now-defunct magazine called “Lears – for the Woman Who Wasn’t Born Yesterday.” The writer said she was standing on a street corner in NYC, and this woman marched up, dressed to the nines, very tall, very put together, quite intimidating. Everybody was watching her, and her eyes were narrowed, as if daring someone to whistle. She stopped next to the writer, who said, “You look magnificent!” The tigress melted.
Of course we’re afraid to compliment strangers. It’s a weird old world out there, so we’re more guarded, but I think that makes it even nicer when it happens. Go ahead, take a chance. Tell another woman she looks great. Say it with conviction and a smile. Yes, it takes a bit of courage, but why not generate a burst of positivity in the world? The worst she can do is ignore you. The best that can happen is that you’ll feel great about yourself all day long.