The #complimentbombing Experiment

Well that little experiment was a bit fun! For those of you who may not follow Hope Street Cards on the social media, this weekend just gone by we got together a super wonderful crew of volunteers all across the east coast of Australia to deliver compliments. From Brisbane to Melbourne, from Byron Bay to Canberra, little cards of complimentary love were left waiting to be found in the most extraordinary of places. (For images of the experiment check out our Facebook album ‘#complimentbombing’ or search #complimentbombing on Instagram).

“I can live for two months on a good compliment” – Mark Twain.

Compliments are one of the most special components of social life. They’re like little gifts of love. They’re not asked for or demanded and they tell a person that they are worthy of notice. Such powerful, powerful gifts.

After a weekend of giving little compliment cards to loved ones, strangers and just leaving them around for people to find (fingers crossed) here’s some of the things I learnt about complimenting this weekend:

  1. Giving compliments can give our mood a burst, by giving someone else’s a lift. The aim of these compliments was to spread some cheer outwards and whilst I’m sure it had some positive effects on the people receiving the compliments as the giver of the compliments I got some pretty sweet benefits. I felt awesome.
  2. Compliments can have an incredible power on someone. My favourite thing to do was actually watch the person’s face as they read the compliment on the card (sometimes this was from my stealth hiding position. I maintain this was not ‘stalking’, but ‘experimenting’). It was beautiful. On one occasion I saw a lady who returned to her car with a shopping trolley full of groceries and a toddler who was screaming. After unloading the groceries and the toddler into the car, she saw the compliment card and appeared somewhat upset that someone had left something on her windscreen. But when she read the card her face changed from what appeared to be agony, to a face of peace and calm and then even a smile came out. The effect of the words on that little card was quite breathtaking. I nearly cried with happy feels.
  3. By giving compliments you become better at noticing and then accepting compliments. For most my life I have not been very comfortable with receiving appreciation. In other words, I am quite good at discounting compliments. If someone compliments my outfit, I’ll be sure to alert them to the fact I’ve owned it for ages, I bought it second hand and that I had to mend it and I did a dodgy job. Such a response instantly sucks the positivity out of the air and can really deflate the person giving the compliment. At worst, it has the power to totally invalidate the person’s judgment. At the very least, things become a bit awkward. But this experiment really opened my eyes to how many compliments are floating around in the world. And how easy it is to respond appropriately – graciously. With a smile.
  4. It can feel really awkward to compliment a stranger. Initially, anyway. But with a little bit of courage and practice it gets way easier and is heaps of fun. Complimenting a stranger is a wonderful way to open up a conversation and a connection that probably wouldn’t occur otherwise. Because compliments make other people feel good, they’re probably more likely to associate that good feeling with you. Thus making awkward conversation with strangers’ way more comfortable. 
  5. When you pay someone a compliment you are looking outside of yourself. This seems pretty obvious and straightforward, but sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in all the goings on of my own busy/hectic/chaotic life. Focusing on and noticing the good qualities in the world around me was like a kind of cognitive training, a training in attention. And by taking notice of praiseworthy situations and efforts I was really able to cultivate an awareness of all the good developments that were happening. And once I became aware, there were heaps. And gee whiz they made me feel nice. Furthermore, when you acknowledge something special in someone, you are looking outside of yourself. People then recognise that you can recognise goodness and in some magical way, they begin to show you more of it (or you become better at noticing it!).

So there you have it, my five big learnings following a weekend of compliment bombing. Massive, massive gratitude to our wonderful team of volunteers who helped shared the love. You all took to the task with brilliant enthusiasm and energy and we adore you all for it!

And the compliments aren’t quite over yet! Tuesday 1st March 2016 is World Compliment Day and we’re going to do our best to make sure everyone gets complimented properly.

We have 10 packs or our ‘Positive Pocket Reinforcers’ or ‘Compliment Card’ packs to give away. To win one all you need to do is head to our Instagram (@hopestreetcards) or Facebook page (Hope Street Cards) and tag someone you know on the link provided with a compliment. The competition will be open all day – Tuesday 1st March. The authors of the ten most wonderful compliments will each receive a pack of cards to continue their complimenting adventures.

Happy World Compliment Day!



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