[Wayback Repost] Posting A Compliment

This post was originally published on February 5, 2015. It’s reappearing today as a Wayback Repost, so you might see some old comments below. Feel free to continue the conversation!


As I mentioned last year, I start out each Month of Letters by sending people postcards because they’re low pressure and I like sending beautiful art and photos along with my correspondence. This year I’m doing the same, but with another specific goal. The idea sparked when I read this NY Times column by Mandy Len Catron. It’s about how to fall in love with anyone, though this is the part I found very compelling:

The moments I found most uncomfortable were not when I had to make confessions about myself, but had to venture opinions about my partner. For example: … “Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time saying things you might not say to someone you’ve just met” (Question 28).

Much of Dr. Aron’s research focuses on creating interpersonal closeness. In particular, several studies investigate the ways we incorporate others into our sense of self. It’s easy to see how the questions encourage what they call “self-expansion.” Saying things like, “I like your voice, your taste in beer, the way all your friends seem to admire you,” makes certain positive qualities belonging to one person explicitly valuable to the other.

It’s astounding, really, to hear what someone admires in you. I don’t know why we don’t go around thoughtfully complimenting one another all the time.

Yeah, why don’t we?

I’ve decided to make an effort to compliment my friends and loved ones more over the next year and hope to turn that into a habit. And what better way to do so than via a postcard?

I fill the small space on the back of each with what I like about the recipient: the ways in which they’re awesome, why I admire them, how much better the world is because they’re in it. A small rectangle of love and happiness.

My goal is to send out at least three of these a week on top of my regular letter writing activities. Too bad there’s no badge for that 😉

10 thoughts on “[Wayback Repost] Posting A Compliment”

  1. Yeah!! I read that article too. Apparently, it was one of the most commented on “Modern Love” columns of all time. I hope you don’t mind if we steal your idea cuz, I’m totally doing that! Also, I’ve written a couple short notes to the makers of products that I love just to tell them how much I love it and why. Cavallini papers even sent me some goodies as a result. What comes around goes around.

  2. I have mailed little cards to some of my students last week to tell them that I was really proud of the hard work they did to audition for a music festival. Some of them that didn’t get in were surprised to receive something saying I was proud. One of them came and thanked me yesterday. She said she was out of school sick and my note made her whole day. The weight of our words is great and I think sometimes it’s so easy to choose the wrong ones to put out there. Have fun delighting in all your friendships. I know they’ll love your postcards.

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