Doxophobia is the fear of one expressing their opinion or receiving praise.
A few months ago I was sitting at lunch with two groups of girlfriends. Half were ones that I had known in the past, and half were recent friends. It was one of those awesome situations where your worlds collide. While we were waiting for our food to arrive, one girl turned to another and confidently stated, “You are so pretty.”
We all heard it, and there was an awkward shift at the table. It wasn’t awkward because her comment was out of line. On the contrary, her comment was completely justified. The girl is beautiful. The awkward silence was because none of the others at the table said it first. The girl deserved to be told she was pretty, but none of us had the gumption to say anything.
The receiver turned slightly pink, smiled a humble smile and muttered a bashful thank you. The complimenter went about her other conversations like nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
But it was out of the ordinary. That’s why the rest of us felt so awkward. We don’t live in a society where people will candidly compliment a total stranger. But why?
Because we live in a competitive and comparative culture, where boosting someone else’s confidence is regarded as a sign of weakness. We forget what it means to encourage and affirm because we’re so focused on trying to receive the attention ourselves. We’re afraid to compliment someone else’s accomplishments or differences because we think that by praising them, we lose something. We actually don’t lose anything. The Bible clearly defines the product of encouraging others.
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. [Proverbs 11:25]
The girl who paid the random compliment is one of those women who just radiates joy. You are happy just to be around her. And why? Because she so freely compliments and encourages those around her.
What if we stopped competing and comparing and started congratulating?
What if instead of resenting we start rejoicing?
What if we celebrated those who do better than us, who look better than us, and who receive more than us?
Can you imagine what our culture would look like if we starting affirming instead of competing? Talk about humility!
Let’s boost each other’s confidence. Let’s compliment the little things. Let’s tell people that they look good. Let’s celebrate other’s victories. Let’s be the people who tell someone they’re pretty… just because they’re pretty. Let’s cheer people on, and clap for them when they do a good job. Let’s not worry about the contexts and just start encouraging.