The Power Of A Compliment


I have been witness to a weird phenomena in the last year; my clients are crying. No it is not because I am making them throw away a prized possession. It is because I am giving them a sincere compliment. Then it dawned on me this week: women do not know how to receive a compliment. Usually when I am called to come in and help, it is at a point where my clients are at their most vulnerable. They know they need help. They know they can’t do it alone. They know that their disorganization is not going to get better without some help. I always admire them in their willingness to call me and have me come into their home or office.

These past couple of months I have been studying a book with my Mastermind group {a book group that meets weekly to discuss a different section of the selected book}. We are reading Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly where she discusses at length our struggle with vulnerability and shame, which go hand in hand. She defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” I have experienced shame in my own life and I do not understand where it came from, it is just there. For me it is that little voice telling me that I am not pretty enough or thin enough. I realized this voice was there when I friend about two years ago asked me why I am always hiding behind my husband in photos. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. But yep, there it was in full color. I either had a child or my husband standing in front of me in all of my pictures. So I started an experiment. I started taking photos of myself with my husband and I side by side. Photos that started to convince me that the woman in the photo is beautiful. Believe me, if you are a facebook friend of mine, you have seen plenty of photos of me in the last two years as part of my reverse brainwashing experiment. I even had some wonderful private photos taken of me with Sara Boyum Photography. Believe me, that woman understands vulnerability. These are photos that when I shared them with a friend she said she thought that they could be on a cover of a magazine. I will never forget her response…..ever. Yet that little voice in my head did not believe her. Most of my friends admired me for my courage. That is not so much courage, as it is my vulnerability at its core.

The odd thing for me is that I am married to a fantastic guy who tells me all the time that I am beautiful, but I don’t hear him. He doesn’t understand my issue and he just shakes his head at me, but he tries to help. His Valentine’s gift to me is pictured above. It is a compact mirror that he had engraved with the words, “The beauty reflected is loved more than she realizes”. Yeah…he is a keeper…..and yeah I cried when he gave it to me. But I still wasn’t convinced. I needed to hear it from someone else in my life. Someone who the more I wanted to hear it, would never say it. The person who would tell me that if it was said once, that should be good enough. I realized I needed it written on my hand in a sharpie marker. But my husband did better than that….he had it engraved on a mirror. But the truth behind my vulnerability and my shame is, I shouldn’t need to hear it from anyone. I should be strong enough to realize it without outside forces telling me otherwise.

When I see my clients cry, it is because I had just told them that I am so proud of them for being as organized as they are despite their crazy life, and it hits a nerve. Just like me wanting to feel beautiful, they want a home that is beautiful. They don’t see all of their hard work with their limited time and energy.  They don’t see what I see….a vulnerable woman asking for help.

You may not recognize a vulnerable woman as she may appear to the outside world as all put together, but inside there is that voice in their head filling them with shame. So what I ask from all of us is to start to realize how important a compliment can be and start a movement to reverse the power of shame. I saw the power of shame resistance last night when a friend was told by another woman that she was rocking her dark lipstick. That quick compliment turned her day around and gave her some much needed confidence. So look for those opportunities to share a sincere compliment. Recognize that a friend looks great in a color or tell her that you admire her tenacity for standing up to injustice. {Just a quick note on boys and men; they suffer from this too. Don’t just stop at your compliments to women….give it to men as well.} But this is where we all need to start taking ownership….we need to hear that compliment, not brush it aside or make excuses. I would love for all of us to find those moments when you can give a sincere compliment as well as those times for you to “hear” the compliment when it is given to you. I will do my best if you all promise to do your best!


To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity


MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity. She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at

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