Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Power of the Second-hand Compliment – Kindness Personified

A long time ago, a colleague of mine related with me a story about his wife and one of her friends. Apparently they’d been comparing their lives and making small talk about what their preferences were regarding their respective husbands and what housework they encouraged them to do. (My friend was a bit of a dab hand around the kitchen and didn’t mind helping his wife out.)

It was out of this discussion that my colleague’s wife gently discovered that not all husbands are as amenable around the house as hers was. It was quite a nice revelation for the both of them.

He was naturally feeling pretty good about himself for being recognised for his overall good attitude and behaviour. In fact, so much so was he buoyed by this matter he began doing even more housework, offering kindnesses unusual for even him.

It was not until recently that I was given cause to re-reflect upon this powerful truth—people love receiving good, positive feedback about what they’re doing right.

The power of kindness begets kindness. It breeds. It multiplies and grows like seed spread over fertile ground.

The fact was this inadvertent compliment brought power to this relationship of my colleague’s and his wife; as he extended more kindnesses, she felt more loved, and she would in turn do things for him. In the sight of his peers this colleague of mine started feeling very happy—both of them were. She respected him because he loved her, not just in words, but most importantly in powerful actions.

These two suddenly had such a strong relationship that others began to ask why they were so happy—they’d almost forgotten about it themselves. But then they remembered. It was her inadvertent realisation relating to the second-hand compliment he’d received from her impressed friend. That’s what started it. Like a snowball rolling gradually but reliably down a chilly mountain their mutual kindnesses gathered pace and intensity toward a crescendo of love.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

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