Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Thirsting For Positive Thoughts

Do all compliments have to be absolutely, positively, definitely truthful? I have decided the answer is no–or at least, not always in all situations. Sometimes it’s nice to hear a “Well done!” “You add some class to this place!” or “You were SO helpful!” even if the person complimenting is just saying it to move the conversation along, as a social remark, or to perk you up. Here’s how I know:

This website allows me to approve comments before they appear, which helps prevent anything unsavory from offending your delicate sensibilities. It also stops the mass-mailed ads which plague most sites that allow comments. However, there is a new kind of spam marketing which can fake out the unwary administrator. The idea is to send generic complimentary comments to blogs and other sites, with the hope the blog will link back to you, the url will be listed with the comment, or the recipient will come to your site to check you out.

Yes, I know they aren’t sincere complimentary comments. But, sometimes my spirit is parched, dry, without water, lacking in moisture, as if no rain has fallen on it, as if it is in sandy soil, crumbling, as if it will never feel raindrops again, completely windblown and desolate, as if all fluid had been evaporated from it, waterless, arid, as if it is living in Baca. (That’s an inside joke with my daughter, Shannon, so don’t be surprised if you don’t understand it. Suffice it say, it’s a bad condition to be in!) Anyway, when that happens any pleasant comment is welcome and when I read the fake ones, I like to pretend they are from you. Here are some I have received in the last week and that I cherish as if they were from dear, dear friends (spelling errors were in the originals):

“I dint know much about these topic and you are very smart to write. Link to me.”
“This is a comment to say you have good blog. Link to me.”
“Very nice!” (Which was thoughtful, since the person took time out from marketing generic drugs to send it to me.)
“Of all the blogs I have read this is the best.” (This one might have been genuine, you never know.)
“Intelligent ideas!” (Ditto above)
“When can we see more on this fact?”
“Tahnk you for letting me read your good thoughts.”
“Keep writing more. LInk to me.”

I ask you, how could I dislike such an outpouring of positive thoughts?

Compliment someone just to be nice and to make them feel good. You may have read that compliments that are not sincere don’t mean much to the recipient.  I think the issue is that they don’t mean much if they are not said in a sincere manner and if they are not meant in a positive spirit. But, as long as you smile, look directly at the person, give them your attention and make it clear that you care about them and their work, the comment itself can be non-specific, hackneyed and not even completely true, but it will still have value and still be appreciated. It’s the equivalent of saying “Thanks for your help” or “Have a great day.”  Try it soon and you will see that even the most basic compliment or greeting is appreciated, the person receiving it will translate it as they need it, and they’ll almost always respond with a smile–and that is the ultimate goal.

To quote a compliment I recently received, and which has kept my spirit out of Baca, “Your writing is accurate. Link to me.”

February 5th, 2009 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 8 comments


  1. I don’t know where Baca is but it sounds like Cheyenne to me. I’ll be sure and say something nice when I see you again.

    Comment by wiseacre | February 6, 2009

  2. We used to have a boss who never said anything nice because he said flattery was insulting to people because its usually fake. I thought he was wrong and it was for the same reason you mentioned. If he had just half tried, just to be nice, it would have gotten him a lot of good results.

    But, it’s funny about all the advertisements you get. Do you delete them or write them back? P.

    Comment by P.A.H. | February 6, 2009

  3. Hi Tina! OK, explain Baca. There is a Baca county and it’s dry like you describe. Is that it?

    Comment by Mike | February 6, 2009

  4. You can’t leave me wondering where Baca is. I’m betting it’s the county and you taught there sometime. The thing I agree with in this post is that if you give someone a compliment you should look at them and give them your attention. That is half of the good part of a compliment. We have someone here who picks up work from our desk and never even looks at us, but starts reading as he walks away and says, “thanks” with no expression in his voice. You can imagine what gets said when he’s gone. 🙂

    Comment by denisek | February 6, 2009

  5. This is a very good post and I couldn’t agree with you more. You really nailed this topic. Thank you for writing it. Link to me.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

    Comment by The mystery man | February 6, 2009

  6. Tina says:
    Baca is a biblical reference–some say it is Mecca. Once Shannon and I heard a pastor who tended to be rather excessive in his descriptions, describe how dry Baca was. What I wrote is similar to the long, convoluted description he gave in his sermon. Shannon and I thought it was very funny and we still go through that litany now and then, just for grins.

    You’d have to have been there. 🙂

    So, it’s not Cheyenne and not Baca County! It’s just one of those running jokes like many of you probably have with people you know–where you can say a few words and everyone who understands it starts laughing.

    By the way, today I received several complimentary messages. I liked this one best:

    I learned a lot about this topic. The way you wrote it was very interesting. I hope you will write more on this topic very soon. (That was from an investment counseling company and you know they wouldn’t lie!)

    So, wiseacre, mystery man, P.A.H., denise and Mike…you apparently don’t appreciate my genius.

    Comment by TLR | February 6, 2009

  7. I remember you telling me about Baca a long time ago. If you remember that conversation we also came up with some R rated examples he could have used to make it really funny. How are you doing? If you read these comments, let me know when you have an AC class coming up. Thanks! J.P.

    Comment by Jimbo | February 7, 2009

  8. Tina says:
    Yes, Jim, I remember the conversation, but I’m going to pretend I forget. I’m sending you an email about the Assessment Center Preparation class. Thanks for the comment and the contact!

    Comment by TLR | February 7, 2009

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