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May 08, 2010


Recently as I was lamenting to someone that I felt a bit lonely and isolated, especially in my work at church as choir director, my friend told me that her and the accompanist and another person were always commenting about what a good job they thought I was doing and that they knew it was a difficult position to be in with people that don't always want to participate. It was comforting, but I found myself wondering why they had never said such things directly to me and wishing that they would take the time to publicly show me how they felt instead of discussing it when I wasn't around. I recognized the compliment, but in this case, it was dulled by the second hand delivery.

Two things:

1) To your point about people saying they like our work because they don't want to hurt your feelings. I tell my writing students that if no one is disagreeing with you, then you aren't saying anything worth paying attention to.
2) During a conversation recently with a friend, she blurted out, "I love you!" She later explained that she was feeling so much love for me while I was talking that she decided to just be out with it. How great is that?

We did this thing growing up, where we would listen for those comments each other. When you heard one, you'd tell the person, "I have a TL for you," which meant that as soon as that person heard a compliment about you, they'd come back and tell you the same, and then you could share the nice things you'd heard about each other. I'm fairly certain the goal for my mother wasn't to have us saying nice things to each other (which was a very good secondary effect), but to teach us to listen in behalf of others, and to realize that we had the power to affect someone else's feelings.

I suspect that if more people were looking for things worth complimenting, and sharing aloud the good characteristics of others, our gossipy drama quotients would lower significantly. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Hmm, I missed a word. We listened for comments ABOUT each other...


One of the things that I do when I work, is to thank each staff member personally for their contributions at the end of the day, even if it's just a: Thank you so much for your help today. I also like to 'catch them doing something good' and immediately compliment them on it. I know when my boss tells me what a great job I'm doing and thanks me for it, it lifts my spirits and I want to do even better.

It doesn't take much to raise another up.

Makes me want to praise my kids more. Are they noticing it's only negative that I speak, or am I positive as well? Just a thought. I always speak about you behind your back! I'll be better about sharing my comments. You're absolutely right!

Great post! I think this what I do with my Hudson Valley blog. I say great things about the restauarants and places I love behind the backs of the owners. Sometimes they find out about the nice review via Google search. Sometimes I tip them off later, but for most, it's a cool thing to learn that someone has been saying cool things about your business behind your back in a public forum, a blog.

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  • When I took a sabbatical from Wall Street to pursue a different dream and help others live theirs, I learned that women in the U.S. may be placated, even pampered, but because we aren't dreaming, we are also desperate and depressed. Drawing on a variety of sources, ranging from academic studies to pop culture, dare to dream encourages us to dream. And then to act on our dreams.


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