World Compliment Day is on 1 March
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to boost one another’s self-esteem.
Preparation and materials
- World Compliment Day is on 1 March, which is a Sunday this year. Therefore, it is suggested that you use this assembly on the previous Friday, although it could be used at other times.
- Carefully survey the audience before announcing the following.
You are a wonderful group of people. There is a wealth of ability on display here today. There is intellectual wisdom, organizational skill, physical prowess, emotional depth . . . the list is endless. This school is fortunate to have such a powerhouse within its walls.
Pause to allow time for thought.
How does that make you feel? I hope you were able to identify with at least something that I said. I was giving you all a compliment.
- In today’s assembly, we are going to prepare for a very special day. Sunday 1 March is World Compliment Day. It was initiated in the Netherlands in 2003 by a man named Hans Poortvliet, but soon became a worldwide celebration. The idea is that, on Sunday, we should reflect on some of the people we will meet, probably family and friends, and focus particularly on what they do well. Then, when we meet them, we should tell them what we appreciate about them. We should give them a compliment.
- So, what’s the point of this initiative?
- First, it emphasizes the positive. There’s no shortage of negative input to our lives. We all have our failures, regular criticism comes our way and there is a whole advertising industry telling us about what we lack in terms of looks, expectations and possessions. A compliment says, ‘You do this well and you are appreciated, just as you are.’ That, in turn, makes the person whom we’re complimenting feel happy, and probably makes us feel good, too.
- Second, a compliment boosts self-esteem. In recent years, much has been said about mental health issues and it is known that low self-image can be at the root of many conditions. A compliment says, ‘You are worth it, you are valued by me.’ When we know that we’ve done something right, when someone says, ‘Thank you’, when we feel appreciated, it acts as an antidote to depression. We can begin to lift the dark clouds from one another simply by the use of a few complimentary words. It’s powerful.
- Third, complimenting someone costs nothing, or at least very little. The cost isn’t in terms of money; it’s about having the courage and taking the time to say the words that matter. Unfortunately, it’s unusual to do this in our society. In some groups, complimenting people is almost a revolutionary activity, but it’s easy to do.
- Finally, it will probably end up benefiting us. Maybe not in terms of an immediate compliment in return: that would feel a little artificial. A compliment, if it makes someone feel good about themselves, will often result in them complimenting someone else. As more people compliment one another, it’s likely that someone will also compliment us! It’s known as paying it forward, whereby we become part of a circle of positivity.
Time for reflection
However, we can find it difficult to compliment some people. If we don’t like them, or see anything praiseworthy in their lives, how on earth can we compliment them?
One way to tackle this is to see people as God sees them. This is at the heart of what Christians believe. The good news about Christianity is that it begins with the simple concept that God loves the world and everyone in it. That’s why Jesus could tell his followers to love and forgive their enemies, the very people who were hard to compliment.
This kind of love begins by initially turning a blind eye to the faults that we see in others. They don’t disappear, but they are put to one side so that we can see through to the positive aspects of each person (and we must surely believe that we all have something good in us). Jesus showed this particularly in the way in which he was drawn to society’s outcasts and rejects, the no-hopers, the ones who never received a compliment. He even asked God to forgive those who were executing him.
This is a difficult frame of mind to get into. Maybe it would be helpful to take the advice of St Paul, who said, ‘Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others.’ (Philippians 2.1-4)
St Paul speaks about how we should regard others as better than ourselves and think of the interests of others before our own. By seeing our own faults, we’re in a better position to look favourably on others.
For many of us, the idea of complimenting people probably seems quite tough, or even embarrassing. We may not often take the time to look at the good points of our families and friends. It can be easier to pick fault and find them annoying, but now you’ve got some thinking time!
Think about who you’re likely to meet on Sunday. Think through the obvious compliments that you could give, and then consider those that might be a little more difficult. Why not choose three of the more difficult candidates and carefully plan your compliments, overlooking the aspects of their personality that you find difficult? They needn’t be extravagant compliments. They might not even seem to be noticed, but somewhere beneath the skin, there will be an effect.
Thank you for the opportunity to boost someone’s self-worth.
Remind us of this with everyone we meet this Sunday.
Please help us to encourage others every day of our lives.
‘Beautiful’ by Christina Aguilera, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoYEQgG4-JY (3.58 minutes long)