If you graduate high school, you’ll spend around 13 years from kindergarten through 12th grade earning your high school degree. Then some people will go on to spend another four years in school, while a few more will even spend four more beyond that, if you can believe it.
Over the course of that time period, there will be various subjects that teachers will teach in hopes that the lessons stick with you. However, at least for me, it often seems like the more random topics and random class activities are the ones that can be easily recalled as we get older.
Two such instances for me revolve around getting compliments.
Way back in first-grade, when I was in Mrs. Teresa Combs’ class, she had on the classroom wall a “compliment tree.” On that tree, it had several blank spaces to fill in over the course of the year. Those blank spaces would get filled in whenever we as a class received a compliment from someone outside of our classroom. Then once the tree was full of compliments, we would get a pizza party.
It was a means of teaching us to be on our best behavior, and thus many of our compliments came from staying in line when we would journey down the halls, or when we’d be quiet and polite during various school assemblies.
Then, much later in my academic career, I learned about comment cards while studying marketing and communications in college.
Comment cards are those cards you’ll occasionally see in the corner of a restaurant where they let you share how your experience was at that restaurant. They’ll often be near a box that you can place your card in after you filled it out, that way the customer can remain anonymous while sharing their thoughts.
In my college class that day, we were going over the various ways that businesses can receive feedback from their customers. For the comment cards in particular, the professor taught us that they might not always be the best because they typically only receive complaints on them. It’s rare that someone will drop off a comment card to tell you that you’re doing a great job and that they had a great time doing business with you. Instead, most of the comment cards that get submitted are when a customer had a particularly bad experience and use the comment card just as a chance to complain.
So if you’re only using comment cards as your way to get feedback, it might get skewed toward the negative because that might be the only feedback you receive. Even if thousands of other people enjoyed their time with you, you’ll likely only hear from the ones who had a bad time.
So besides the fact that I randomly remember topics like these more than other subjects like history and science, I think they are both good lessons for us to keep in mind no matter how old we are.
As Christians, we should always strive to carry ourselves in such a way that we could fill up a compliment tree if we really wanted to. We should try to be helpful, courteous and polite whenever we get the chance so that the others who see us will want to tell us how pleasant we are. Of course, this doesn’t mean we need to go begging for people to say nice things to us. But we should naturally just want to be as helpful and as well-mannered as possible so that people will notice and will want to show their appreciation.
Then when the shoe is on the other foot, we need to try to give compliments when they are deserved. We don’t need to be like a comment card in which the only time we open our mouths is to tell someone how badly they’re doing or how much you disapprove of them.
It’s certainly fine to give constructive criticism when needed, but it’s important that you give compliments and show appreciation when you have the chance.
Proverbs 3:27 says, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it."
Let us strive to carry ourselves so that we would be worthy of filling up a compliment tree while also taking the opportunity to give out compliments in return.