One of life’s most universal truths is everybody loves hearing how much you admire their attire. Men, women, and spoiled canines alike – we find great pleasure in having our choice of that-hair-with-those-shoes validated. I suspect some 87% of my impulse buys have stemmed from a stranger in the dressing room telling me I was rocking something or other. In all facets, we adore the surge of pride that comes from the approval of strangers.
Yet sometimes it’s easy overlook the more tacit approvals – the ones that come in the form of the woman in Target picking up the shampoo we just selected, or the guy at Starbucks who tells the barista, “I’ll have what she’s having,” or even the obnoxious tailgater who matches our every move on the morning commute. These are the validations that bring us back to the days of our little sister stealing our Air Supply’s Greatest Hits CD. On the surface they irk us, but the guy copying your weight routine at the gym is really giving a silent nod of “nicely done buddy.”
There are also the universal forms of validation, where everyone receives the benefit of the doubt and the world reverts to a happy place with unlocked doors and on-your-honor Tootsie Pop jars. There is nothing more refreshing than being trusted with a thirty minute treadmill limit or checking into a hotel who doesn’t think you’re going to steal their hangers, or when the family you’re baby-sitting for tells you to “go nuts” with their stocked pantry. No lifeguard on duty? Obviously the world knows you’re a killer swimmer and survivalist.
Implicit trust and approval from someone who doesn’t know you from Adam is just about as good as it gets. So next time you’re about to flip the bird to the guy in your rearview, consider sending him a thoughtful thank you note instead.
What’s the ultimate form of flattery for you?