How to Compliment People in a (More) Sincere Way

How to Compliment People in a (More) Sincere Way

The curse of working as a journalist for almost a decade is that spotting truth from deceit comes so easily. And it does in a way that could render you jaded looking at how often people lie to you, without them being aware that you could actually tell that they’re not telling the truth.

Or perhaps, people avoid the truth because they refrain from skidding into conflict. So they end up saying amazing, awesome, wonderful, fantastic, blowing up our egos instead of providing us necessary feedback so we could improve in the future.

But regardless of what the reason is, sincerity matters because the truth matters. At work, we value sincerity because it helps us grow professionally. If you’re my colleague and you’ve never told me how awful I wrote our proposals for the past few years and instead kept on saying I wrote them very well, you’re not being sincere. Maybe your intention was to keep me motivated, but the fact that you know that there are things that I should improve means you’re part of the reasons why I’m not growing as a member of the team.

I’m sharing some of the things that might be helpful to make us appear more sincere:

 

Reduce the adjectives

Great job. It’s the best. Cut those. It’s either you have pretty bad standards, or your vocabulary for adjectives is scarce. But either way, cut your adjectives. Replace your adjectives with verbs. (Instead of saying “it’s an inspiring piece of work”, try saying “your writing reminded to keep trying my best without looking back. It moved me.”)

Elaborate your praises

Please don’t end with great job. We need to know why it is a great job. We need to know why people like it. We are individuals who don’t just exist for no reasons at all. We need reasons. So give your reasons why you’re praising someone. An example:

“Hey, Sarah. Your book was the best book I’ve read. At first, I thought I’m going to read another novel with a generic plot. But it took me to places. It wasn’t just a love story. There were so many historical events that happened in the background. And you wrote beautifully. In fact, I highlighted some of my favourite lines. Here let me show you…”

It’s alright to criticise

If there’s something in my work that you didn’t like, tell me. If the cookies I baked were too sweet for your taste buds, don’t fool me by saying you love it while actually not finishing the entire piece. You’re not being sincere.

(Thank you Robert Baker for the picture.)

The Allegory of the Trees

The Allegory of the Trees

It’s the grueling time of the year again where I need patience: immigration paperwork. Often, I meet the most undesirable people who don’t seem to be helpful in processing my permits. As it turns to be unbearable, I ask my self a question: what the hell am I doing here?

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This morning, when that question popped in my mind, I happened to notice the unripe mango fruits of this tree standing outside my house. Trees are a metaphor to me. They remind me of the universal truths, like there will always be a time for flowers to bloom. Likewise, there will be a season for them to transform into fruits. Though at times they won’t — but there’ll be another time that they will. What is this mango tree doing here? No one knows. Maybe to ask what am I doing here is a question that’s not too fruitful to pursue. Or maybe, I should ponder on things like if I were to imagine that I were a tree, what fruits do I want to bear? I want to bear fruits of hope. So wherever I am planted, my existence is a gift to anyone around me. But then the pessimistic in me asked: what if the fruits of hope fall into the ground and later turns out to be of no use? I look at the tree again. The fruits may rot, but later the seeds they carry will turn into new trees. Or, whatever happens to the fruits the mother tree has given birth to, she remains to be a tree. No more, no less.

 

Poetry: Kapok

Poetry: Kapok

(In Bahasa Indonesia, Kapok can mean two things. First, it may refer to the Kapok tree. Second, it may mean deterrent; or that someone is not going to do it again. In Cebuano, the second meaning can be translated to tagam.)

The clouds in Lombok

are trapped in cocoons.

They wait for the time

Before they can bloom.

 

In a small village called

Sesait, I was told the trees

that imprison the clouds

are named kapok. “They

use it to soften your bedding,”

one of the farmers explained.

Ah, I know. So cotton, it is,

the innards of the pillow I

tucked under your head,

one night when you said

you’re spending the night

with me. So kapok is

the cushion that carried

your weight when I tossed

you into my bed of faded flowers

which breathed the fragrance

pulsating from your neck.

Now I remember, when I

buried my face into your silk

thighs; when you gasped for air —

your fingers whirled on my skin

like they were reading secrets

coded in braille. As I reached for

your face so I could tuck my lips

into yours  —

your hands pushed my head,

and you asked:

“How can you say that in Lombok,

the clouds bloom from cocoons?”

I said, there’ll come a time.

And they’ll bloom soon.

Maybe, before they could bloom,

I’d have to wait under

a hopeless sky.

So, I also know that apart from

Cottons, the word kapok

Could mean another thing

on the island of Java.

It could also refer

to a time where I’d tell myself:

This is the last time I’m doing this.

When I succumbed into

believing that you like

poetry whispered

in your wet ears,

you said not to expect.

Some cocoons give birth to

a plague of moths,

instead of butterflies,

or answered prayers.

 

And even as the kapok trees bear

flowers that resemble

beautiful clouds,

they’re not the exact

things we expect

they would become.

How Fat Shaming People Nearly Turned Me Anorexic

How Fat Shaming People Nearly Turned Me Anorexic

Since I was a kid, I had been called many things: baboy, taba, tabachoy, damulag, dambuhala, tambukikoy. These are Filipino words used to poke fun at fat people. But in 2012, I felt like I was the happiest person on earth. People no longer called me names. I’m finally able to fit on clothes at ready-to-wear shops. From 120 kilos, I went down to 85. My waistline shrunk from 44 to 34. I could borrow my brothers’ clothes. And I said goodbye to double X apparels! I’m size M! Boy, that was the best feeling ever!

 

The fat/body shamers

 

But just I thought there’s nothing to worry about, people started noticing the changes in my body — in a negative way. You have so many stretch marks, your body is sagging.  You need to do sports, your body seem to be as soft as jelly. I mean, hello, how would I lose weight if it weren’t for sports?

And there were still people whose first topic for every conversation would be: hey, you’ve gained weight haven’t you? Have you been eating a lot lately?

It’s these kind of questions that get on my nerves.

Why on earth do these people seem to talk like they own my body?

Of course, I always make an effort to keep my composure whenever I encounter these kind of people. But, whenever I’m alone in my room, I would take off my clothes and stand before the mirror. I see a very fat guy. I would stare at him like it were another person whom I hate. I called him names. Although in reality, that guy is me, a guy who’s fat no more.

My desire to lose weight went on. I would eat only small amounts, weighed myself each morning (or whenever I pass by a clinic or a pharmacy). I would swim everyday, and at night I would jog. Takut gemuk, the fear of gaining weight…or in the words of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association: anorexia nervosa.

 

My weight loss obsession

 

In 2015, my body weight reached 80 kilograms, the lightest I’ve ever had. My body mass index was at 21.7. I was negative three points away from being clinically underweight.

And I knew things were not going right. My body spoke to me. At night, I could not sleep well. The night breeze felt like it was nibbling the bones in my elbows. I could not sit for a long time; the bones in my buttocks felt like it was piercing my behind.

While I never consulted an expert to declare that I was flirting with anorexia nervosa, I knew that I was at the brim of this eating disorder. But not all people are as lucky as me. Anorexia has the highest fatality rate of any mental illness. It is estimated that 4% of anorexic individuals die from complications of the disease.

 

How I saved myself from anorexia

 

However, one thing I’ve learned in life is that people will always have things to say; and they’re not really aware of the consequences. We must recognise that not all people think of the consequences of the words they say. And it is not your problem. It is theirs. People think that it’s okay to say that you’ve gain weight, even if they have not actually weighed you. It does hurt, but hey, at least you know you’re aware that the words they say are do not represent reality. In cases like this, the only way to know whether you’re fat or not — is by actually stepping on that weighing scale because numbers do not lie.

Also, ultimately, the best person who should be responsible for your own body is no other than yourself.

As someone who has studied sociology for more than ten years, and having learned that our environment bears a huge impact on who we turn into, I realised that there is no use of spending my luxury of time with people who rub into my face that I’m fat. Because I am not. I have known that three years ago, when I stepped into that store to try on medium-sized clothes. I have defeated obesity. And there is no use to be with people who will do no good — but to push you into the pits of anorexia, a disease that I might have been suffering for all these years. Similarly, think of them like unnecessary weight, they do will need to go…

…because whatever people will have to say….there is only one thing that matters the most:I have been successful in battling obesity. I have shed that critical body weight that I have been carrying for more than 20 years, that bodyweight people used to poke fun of me. I am happy with this bodyweight. No matter what people say.

 

My current body weight is 82.6 kilos. I am 192 cm tall. That means my Body Mass Index is 22.5, which is normal, according to the World Health Organisation.

So, am I thin or am I fat?

I do think that is not a question.

That shouldn’t be.

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Watson

 

 

Poetry: Again (0:52)

Poetry: Again (0:52)

At the crack of dawn,

your name is what

the sea hears from

my whispers. I say

it again, and again.

Meaning, to lose it,

it would need repetition.

Like, the countless nights

of not wanting to rise;

I persist on hoping

from the moment

your name is said

you’d mean less

with every breath.

Perhaps, it’s the same

reason: why, seldom do I

want to see the sun.

It’s the only thing I have

close to hope

of one day, I wish,

I no longer want you,

nor, the

the memories

tied to your name,

which to the sea

I repeatedly say

again

and

again.