Was there ever a day that a guy could give a compliment to a women without her thinking he was coming onto to her? The answer, sadly, is “once a blue moon…if she knows you, is over the age of 50 and/or you are evidently homosexual.”

A while ago, I decided to start paying more people (including strangers) compliments. I came to the conclusion that people should know when they are looking good, it is always really nice to know that it has been noticed. I mean, when ever I get a compliment it really brightens up my day. I challenge anyone to feel worse than they were after receiving a genuine compliment. The trouble is that most people either assume you are just being nice, or are trying to pick them up.

That is not to say I only complimented women. In an attempt to quell the “I’m coming on to you” confusion, I made a point of complimenting men too. Which brought a whole array of other kinds of awkward moments into the equation. One guy, after I complimented him on his sharp suit, looked down on it as if I was being sarcastic. Another time, a colleague responded with “Are you a homo bru?” after I noticed and complimented him on his new haircut.

Usually, elderly people are the most receptive. Maybe it is because they have passed the point where the ego convinces you that everyone is a pervert, or that they have truly “come into their own” and they simply come from a generation where being polite still existed, but I am yet to compliment an elderly person without them smiling profusely, thanking me and referring to me as “a lovely young man.” And that goes for both male and females.

The young folk of today have this air of importance, that is ironically fueled by insecurity. They will even assume that a stranger would be sarcastic before paying a genuine compliment. I can’t help but wonder why things are like this. Are we as a generation so far removed from the “romance of the early 90’s” that being polite is a surprising and foreign action? Or maybe, we have entered into an age where it is easier to communicate your true feelings over an electronic device than it is to do in person. What are people so afraid of?

I don’t really know why people are so sensitive these days, but I do know that the most effective way to desensitize them is to simply make it more common place. Jump in the deep end. So I intend to continue and even make a greater effort to pay genuine compliments, and I implore you to do the same. Give a stranger a compliment, give them an opportunity to feel good about themselves, the more it happens, the more people will be able to accept it.

Need a little motivation? This will help.