Biodegradable Words

The day has been a good one so far: There’s been a lot of traffic through the store, all of the employees showed up for their shifts on time, and the manager is feeling great. Then because of one complaint from a finicky customer, the whole day seems to crumble.

The day has been a good one so far: You got up on time, found the right outfit to wear, got to school on time, smiled at your classmates, and got right down to business. Then a teacher points out a mistake you made yesterday, and your whole afternoon becomes gloomy.

Usually that’s all it takes. Just one complaint, one correction, one unkind word, one angry look, one unfriendly email. Just one, and it’s hard to remember any of the good stuff which happened earlier. Just one, and the rest of the day seems so hard to bear.

That’s because good words are biodegradable. Kind words break down faster than unkind words. Compliments are quickly erased by complaints.

“One of the commodities in life that most people can’t get enough of is compliments. The ego is never so intact that one can’t find a hole in which to plug a little praise. But, compliments by their very nature are highly biodegradable and tend to dissolve in hours or days after we receive them—which is why we can always use another.” —Phyllis Theroux

Here’s how you can help today. It might take a couple of extra minutes, but the results are so worth it! Give three compliments today.

  • Tell the barista at your coffee shop how much you appreciate her smile every morning.
  • Mention to the building custodian how nice he keeps the office looking.
  • Say “thanks” to the band for playing one of your favorite songs.
  • Compliment your kids for doing their homework without you having to ask them.
  • Thank your school teacher for her informative lesson.
  • Tell your supervisor you appreciate their extra effort.

It’s not hard to find something to compliment about anyone. Your compliment may be just the antidote they need to counteract a complaint that has gotten them down. And when you treat others this way, you can be sure that compliments will be coming your way too!

6 Responses to “Biodegradable Words”

  1. Craig T. Owens Says:

    I ran into the Cedar Springs Meijer to buy some donuts for our breakfast. I noticed that all of the donuts were decorated so nicely. Not just iced, but they had colorful designs (some even decorated like bugs!).

    I didn’t see anyone in the bakery, so I asked to speak with the store manager. They paged him, and Ray came walking toward me with a forced smile on his face. I could practically hear the words swirling in this mind, “Now what?!?”

    I shook his hand. “Ray,” I said, “I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate the extra effort your baker puts into the donuts. They don’t have to be decorated like this, but they make my family smile.”

    That compliment made Ray smile. From ear-to-ear! His smile was so worth the extra three minutes it took me to wait to speak with him!


  2. John Johnston Says:

    I had my own moment of ego biodegradation yesterday. I almost let it ruin a beautiful day. Thankfully the day ended out great with a beautiful view of the sunset and painted sky on Thomson Lake.

    Thanks for the great post (OK, now only two compliments left to give today 🙂


  3. Kelly L. Mosher Says:

    Truer Christ-like actions would be hard to find. Thanks for the Spirit-spur!!


  4. Faye Says:

    Good reminder. I’ve heard it takes 7 kind words to conteract one unkind word. We’ve all got our work cut out for us.


  5. Carla Brogden Says:

    you are so right, Craig. I have made it a practice to do these things as you mentioned and have found that I get a good deal of great inner sense of well being when I have been able to acknowledge the efforts of others. Isn’t that neat, God allows us to be blessed even in the act of blessing others! Thanks for the reminder to seek out opportunities to be kind.


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