Compliments.

When I was laureled in the SCA I happened to pay a compliment to someone I highly regard and knew for a few years. She is highly regarded both in her specialised field and in general.

She surprised me by appearing to be a little overwhelmed, and I think we both cried and she admitted that it meant a lot as people tend to stop paying compliments once you are perceived as not needing them. That once you are established as knowing what you do, you stop getting told so.

There is a double effect here, and I have experienced it myself- on both sides (I had not given said compliment right away as I was a bit in awe of her work.) First you get told “you probably hear this a lot”- the truth is you don’t. People would talk to me about how amazing she was, and they’d sat the same to pretty much everyone but her. The assumption was she somehow knew what people were saying, even though she was not present.

The other aspect is that there is an assumption that once you are pretty secure in what you do that you will just get a swelled head if you hear compliments. Well due to the above the opposite is true. These become more precious as fewer people are willing to say “good on you” once they think you must have had your fair share, time for someone new.

The truth is there is no cut off. And I can guarantee if you tell someone (especially in public!) that they are great even if you think they already know that they will be honoured.

And I only do not name her as this post is based on my recall of events and my own observations in the years since.