Life with Lauren: A thank you is enough


Lauren Deisley, Columnist

“That dress looks amazing on you!”

“Thanks! Your, um, shirt… looks… comfortable?”

This kind of bumbling interaction happens to everyone, often multiple times a day.

We receive a kind compliment and then we stand there, awkward and unsure, not knowing whether we should return the favor and find something about the other person to praise, or just say thanks and move on.

We war with ourselves, thinking, “Well, they look the same as they do every day. Should I try to find something to compliment or not?”

The answer is no.

A true, sincere compliment means a lot more when it’s from the heart, and spur-of-the-moment.

We often feel obligated to say something back when we’ve been flattered, but that awkward search­ing for something to say can actually lessen the impact of the original compliment.

If a friend spent “forever” mak­ing sure their hair looked perfect before going out and we actually noticed and brought it up, then yes! of course they will feel great when we express our admiration. But we shouldn’t expect them to return the favor right then and there, because that makes us seem insincere in our intentions.

The point of giving someone a compliment is not to receive one in turn, but societal norms make it feel as though that’s exactly what we should do.

We feel wrong or rude if we don’t return the favor.

It’s different than holding the door open for someone behind you. It’s more intimate than that, but it’s getting confused with more com­mon social interactions.

It isn’t a sign of respect, but more an acknowledgement of someone else’s efforts.

Did they spend time perfecting that poster for presentation? Did they watch hours of YouTube tu­torials to learn how to do a trendy makeup technique? Did they prac­tice their speech in front of the mirror before you saw it?

Personally, my favorite part of saying something nice to someone is seeing the look on their face, or the surprise that I noticed whatever small detail I brought up. Knowing that I’ve made someone else’s day just a little bit better in turn makes my own day better.

Sure, when broken down, it sounds selfish. After all, I’m no­ticing something about someone and speaking up to make me feel good. Right?

While it might feel selfish and egotistical, the unselfish reason­ing behind these actions is actu­ally simple. I like brightening my friends’ days, and even the days of total strangers.

It doesn’t have to be selfish, it just has to be right. And it has to be real.

If you notice your friend got a haircut and you actually think it looks good, don’t be afraid to point that out. And don’t be offended if all they say is thank you. Don’t expect anything in return, just see how it feels to watch your friend’s face light up.

The best thing to do when being given a compliment is to say thank you, and that’s it. Don’t feel as though you have to now scramble for something to say in return. It’s better to wait until there’s some­thing to say.

After all, good things come to those who wait.