10 Insanely Nice Things You Can Say to Anybody
Columnist Leigh Newman weighs in on the tiny but enormously kind things you can say that may change a person's day—and (sometimes) even their way of looking at themselves.
Photo: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
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"You have a genius not understood by mere mortals."
This was probably said to Einstein. But you can say it to anybody in those moments, say, when you catch your new boyfriend in the shower...with his yoga mat. Or you go over to your best friend's house and find her layering her sandwich like this: ham, cheese, lettuce, onion, ham, cheese, lettuce, onion, hamcheeselettuceonion. We all have these quirky rituals. They are a little screwball. We usually do them alone. But they save time (for example, rinsing off a yoga mat while you rinse yourself) or just work better (for example, making 12 individual layers of sandwich filling ensures that you'll get a little taste of all the flavors in each bite, instead of, say, just a hunk of ham and lettuce or a mouthful of onion and cheese. Understanding the reasoning behind these private processes and praising the person for them is a moment of respect. You're not saying that you are going to do it at your house—which would be a lie—but you are saying that their idea makes sense, right in the moment they most expect to be ridiculed for being a complete kook.