There are two kinds of people, and there are two kinds of compliments . . . and I'm dismissing backhanded compliments and sarcastic compliments and fake compliments you give to your kids after they've performed in an elementary school play . . . I'm talking about actual, sincere compliments:
1) it's certainly nice to receive the first kind of compliment, but what designates it as a category one compliment is that it is in a domain with which you have experience and practice, and so it's more expected-- when I compliment my wife on a great meal, she appreciates the positive feedback, but she's a good cook, so it's no surprise . . .
2) the second kind of compliment is more exciting, because it's for something that you're not known for . . . something that you don't have experience with . . . such as: wow, you really euthanised that groundhog perfectly . . . and you can congratulate me now, because while I certainly did NOT euthanize that groundhog perfectly, I did receive a category two compliment this week . . . the bell rang, signalling the end of Creative Writing class, and moments later there was a commotion in the hall in front of my room, and I heard "Fight! Fight!" so I went to investigate, and one girl had another girl by the hair, and she had pulled the victim's hair in front of her face, and she was swinging her back and forth, and the girl with the masses of curly black hair in front of her face-- one of my students-- was going to get tossed into a locker . . . by her hair . . . but I was able to get in between the two combatants and grab the arm puller by the wrists and extricate her hands from the other girl's hair, and once I had accomplished that task-- it's not easy to get someone to let go of a pile of hair-- they took a few more swats at each other, but I was able to keep them apart and none of the blows landed-- and while this was happening, another teacher blew the whistle we were provided last year for such altercations-- and the security guards hustled over and escorted the ladies to the office . . . the next day the head security guard complimented me on a job well-done, the principal and the security team had watched the video, and he said I did a textbook job of breaking up the fight: I kept calm, I didn't use too much force, I didn't throw anyone around, and I kept them from hurting each other . . . and I felt better about this compliment than I would if someone told me I had taught a good lesson about Shakespeare, and so if you really want to make someone feel good, tell them they did a great job at something they don't do every day, such as: wow, you inflated all of your tires in the allotted three minutes, without having to pay an extra 75 cents . . . I bet Usain Bolt couldn't do that!