21 Days of Compliments: A Social Experiment

Social Experiment | Compliments | Inspiration | Motivation

Editor's Note: We know that the slightest compliment can easily brighten someone's day.  They often come at a time when you need it most, unbeknownst to the giver.  But we wondered if it would have an effect on the person giving the compliments as well.  So we sent our friend Amy out to give compliments to total strangers for 21 days to see how she would feel when it was over.

Words by Amy Cook Image by Genesis Geiger

I have always been told it takes 21 days to make a habit, so when I was asked to conduct a social experiment I thought to myself, Great! Three weeks will be easy to fill with compliments. Wrong! I am so good about thanking people and smiling. I will thank people all over the place, but paying compliments to people is so intentional. You have to really think about what you are doing and what you will say. Fun Fact #1 about me? I have horrible social anxiety so this talking to people on purpose thing was extra difficult.

Day 1: I see a preteen girl behind me in line at a local grocery store and complimented her on her zebra-print, frames. Adorable glasses and she was super excited that a grown-up noticed. Always start with kids, they are so easy!

Day 2: I told the drive-thru pharmacist that I liked her nails (in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t count that and should be complimenting nail technicians, but I am counting it anyway).

Day 3: I told a guy working at the pharmacy (the next day during pick up) that he had amazing customer service skills and despite how crazy busy they were I appreciated his great attitude (see, the thanking part is easier for me).

Day 4: Told the gas station attendant, Brownwyn, how pretty her name was (again, should have complimented her parents, but you get the idea).

Day 5: I told a bartender I loved how fast she was at making drinks.

Day 6: A friend brought a friend to the brunch I threw and I told her how much I liked her Guess bag.

Day 7: Complimented a woman at the gas station on her gorgeous highlights.

Day 8: Told a mother at the daycare how much I admired her creative and healthy lunches. She was a new mom so I am counting this as a stranger, too!

Day 9: Complimented the counter girl at Ulta on her amazing long lashes, totally hers and not some fiber mascara… super jealous!

Day 10: Noticed the cashier at the gas station was rocking some new bling so I complimented her on the jewelry and congratulated her on the engagement.

Day 11: Complimented the stock guy at Meijer for his super friendly attitude.

Day 12: Told a visitor at my church how much I loved her peacock brooch.

Day 13: Told the coffee shop girl how much I loved her hair.

Day 14: Told the girl at the gas station that I loved her positive attitude, especially for it being 5:45 a.m. (Same gas station, all different attendants. A girl needs her gas station lattes in the morning.)

Day 15: Told a guy at the gym how amazing his workout routine was.

Day 16: Complimented a parent at the daycare on how amazing her homemade pear butter was (a gift she brought us when she enrolled her son).

Day 17: Complimented the girl working at the Popeye’s Chicken place on the turnpike on her wonderful attitude and Zen-like patience after an especially rude customer.

Day 18: Complimented a woman at a gas station (different gas station, different state) on her jewelry, which she told me she made herself.

Day 19: Told our waitress at the restaurant that she had a gorgeous smile.

Day 20: Almost knocked over a lady to tell her how beautiful her outfit was, I have always had a thing for Boho and wish I could pull off that look.

Day 21: Complimented a child at the movie theatre on how great her laugh was, super adorable and genuine (start with a child and end with a child).


So what did I learn? First I learned that I need to expand my horizons and go to more places than the gas station and grocery store. Second I learned that I am not good at approaching strangers, but compliments make people feel good. Some people blushed, others smiled, some gave me a weird look and grabbed their purse a little tighter before smiling, but it worked. Lastly, I need more practice so I may continue this for a little while longer.